Sustainable furniture: Why we’ve committed to the SVLK program to help protect Indonesia’s forests

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We’ve committed to making sure all of our Indonesian timber is fully sustainable. Here’s why that’s important... Indonesian teak is a fantastic material - beautiful, durable and versatile. The reclaimed teak that our craftsmen use to make furniture in our Java workshop is also very eco-friendly - and in fact, Raft is the one of leading manufacturers and largest retailers of 100% certified reclaimed teak n the world. But we wanted to go even further and make sure that all the timber we source for Raft products is fully sustainable - not just the reclaimed wood. That’s why we’ve committed to the SVLK program (also known as FLEGT in Europe), which is designed to protect Indonesia’s forests and for future generations.

Why is the SVLK program important?

Indonesia has amazing natural timber resources. But it also has a big problem with illegal exports of timber - and it’s been going on for several decades. Over the last two decades it is estimated that about 80% of the country’s timber exports have consisted of unreported illegally-sourced wood. That’s hundreds of millions of cubic meters of timber leaving Indonesia without any proper tracking or planning for sustainability. This has had a severe impact on the local environment, with an estimated loss of 2.3 million hectares of forest. It’s also hit the Indonesian economy, with the country thought to have lost up to $9bn in non-tax revenue between 2003 and 2014. The SVLK initiative is designed to end this problem, by combating illegal logging and introducing good governance and proper regulation to the timber trade. It stands for Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu, which translates to the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance System. (In Europe it’s known as FLEGT - Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.) Under the program, everyone in the Indonesian timber supply chain must have an SVLK certificate - from the plantation owners, to the loggers, to the processors and finally the exporters. The licensing system is intended to ensure that wood and production facilities are legal, and also that all involved businesses and organisations are complying with Indonesia’s employee rights regulations, like health insurance, hours of operation and minimum wage.

What does it mean for Raft - and for you?

For Raft, obtaining an SVLK certification meant going through a rigorous application and audit process. (You can read more about this and about the EU’s FLEGT timber licensing here.) That’s something we’re happy to do, because sourcing good, ethical and sustainable materials is very important to us. More importantly, the SVLK certification means that our customers can buy all our timber products - not just those sourced from reclaimed teak - with the confidence that they’re helping to protect Indonesia’s forests, economy and jobs for future generations. Read more about how we source materials in this interview with our founders Mick and Heinz.

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