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TFF Legality Standard

(For use with forest management units located in state forests (HA, HT)



The goal of the TFF-Indonesia program can be summarized as follows:

  1. To promote sustainable tropical forest management by gathering and disseminating information about its benefits and by demonstrating and teaching proper management practices.
  2. To promote the trade in forest products manufactured from legally sourced and sustainably managed timber.

TFF’s work in promoting sustainable forest management, legality, and chain-of-custody, is intended to be available for wide participation. With this in mind, TFF seeks to validate its activities through broad-based participation with other organizations having similar goals and thus achieve credibility and transparency through third party audit and verification of it’s activities related to these primary goals.

TFF’s initiative in relation to legality is intended to stimulate the achievement of sustainable forest management. The use of a legality standard should be viewed as an effort to address market concerns and, to provide stimulus to the forest management unit to improve management practices.

TFF views legality verification as a “business-to-business” issue that in no way usurps the priority of the Government mandate in regards to the administration and management of the country’s forest resources.


A preoccupation with legality and verification of origin issues, particularly in the European markets, is a direct reflection of the growing awareness among concerned NGO’s and agencies in these market areas, of the magnitude of unregulated and illegal harvesting and trading of logs and wood products which is occurring in many developing countries. An additional concern is the accelerating loss of forest area in many tropical regions. Awareness of these issues has resulted in pressure being exerted on importers of forest products to seek verification of the legality and origin of these products.

The Government of Indonesia has created a system of documentation and permits designed specifically to prevent illegal timber from entering the international market. Under this system, only shipments of forest products accompanied by the authorized documentation, are considered legal. The Government of Indonesia has publicized this system widely within the UK and other member countries of the EU, however, due to the perception that these documents can be bought or falsified, skepticism of this system remains strong and the need for an independent audit procedure is repeatedly raised.

This in turn, has prompted a debate on the definition of legality (within the Indonesian context) and has resulted in various initiatives to define legality as it relates to the harvesting, processing, and trade of forest products.

The Tropical Forest Foundation has been an active participant in this debate from the beginning, and has been among the pioneers in crafting a credible response to address market concerns on the issue of legality of Indonesian forest products.

Two Steps – Two Standards

The TFF forest-market linking initiative is the context of TFF’s work on legality issues. Under this initiative, TFF has adopted a “step-wise” approach for engagement with forest management companies at the concession and the industry level.

Legal Verified logoThe first level is an agreement on the part of the forest management company to implement RIL management strategies on it’s entire annual operating area within a two year time frame. In recognition of this commitment, TFF will issue the “Legal Verified” mark based on a successful, third party audit against legality and chain-of-custody standards. The legality definition considered most appropriate for this mark is the “TFF Standard of Legal Origin”. However, a forest management company may chose to be audited against the higher “TFF Standard of Legal Compliance”.

RIL Verified logoThe second level is a recognition of successful implementation of RIL management practices verified by independent, third party audit against the TFF RIL Standard. In recognition of this achievement, TFF will issue the “RIL Verified” mark. The legality definition required to substantiate this mark is the “TFF Standard of Legal Compliance (v.5.0)”. Existing certificates granted under version 4.2 will be upgraded during the first annual surveillance audit.

Context and References

The TFF forest-market linking program is intended to stimulate the adoption of reduced impact logging and the achievement of sustainable forest management by providing a credible vehicle for market recognition. The RIL Standard and the legality definitions associated with the forest-market linking program, are available for general use upon agreement with TFF as specified in the Standard for Reduced Impact Logging document. TFF will apply the following legality definitions when assessing a forest management unit for purposes of recognizing achievements in the adoption of RIL. Under agreement with TFF, other certification systems may use the following legality standards or legality standards which are equivalent or more rigorous than those used by TFF.

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