The Indonesia Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) was formed in response to concerns about ineffective forest management regulations in Indonesia, and requirements stemming from European timber import regulations, and as a means to curb illegal logging. The TLAS aims to improve forestry governance in Indonesia and provide a legal licensing system for timber exports. Established in 2009, the TLAS consists of two mandatory certification schemes that enforce various certification requirements on forest holders and timber processing companies in Indonesia. This thesis focuses on how the TLAS impacts on the more than 35 million ha of production forests in Indonesia, covering both industrial forests and community forests.
The rate of forest certification in tropical countries is far less than in temperate forest countries. Previous research has suggested this is because of the greater complexity involved in tropical forest management. Prior to the TLAS, less than ten percent of Indonesia forests were certified by voluntary certification schemes. Under the mandatory TLAS program, the number of certified forest has increased rapidly. Current data shows 267 forest management units around 20 million ha have been certified by the TLAS system. However, the effectiveness of the TLAS is still in doubt. Previous research has shown that the benefits of forest certification schemes usually extend more to larger-scale industrial forest companies, and less to smaller-scale community forest stakeholders. Therefore, this study aims to explore the effectiveness of TLAS from the perception of industrial forest companies and community forest holders.
This thesis examines the benefits and challenges of TLAS implementation and provides a comparison of results from forest companies and community forest holders. The research presented in the thesis is important because little has been published in the scientific literature about the TLAS or other similar mandatory certification instruments, particularly in tropical countries. This thesis applies a qualitative research approach involving semi structured interviews, to explore stakeholder perception and to show how different types of stakeholders have different perspectives on the TLAS.
The results indicate that stakeholders believe that the TLAS scheme has brought positive impacts on management, economic and social aspects of forest management in Indonesia. However, stakeholders identify certification cost and constraints on accessing eco-sensitive premium-priced timber markets, as the major challenge to further development. The results suggest that the main differences between the impacts that the TLAS had on industrial-scale forestry versus small-scale community forest holders are as follows: (1) community forest holders experience higher certification cost per unit forest area; (2) community forest holders fail to achieve a market price premium for certified forest products as these markets require high quality products; (3) community forest holders need substantial technical and financial assistance to maintain TLAS standards.
This thesis suggests there are eight factors that influence the effectiveness of schemes like the TLAS. These include: legitimacy credibility, effective administration and procedures, market opportunities, changes in forestry practices, security over land tenure, accessibility and distribution of information, and fairness in law enforcement. Of these factors, timber market issues seem to be regarded by all stakeholders as the most important factor.