Mahogany and teak are among the most valuable tropical timbers used for furniture. In 1998 the Indonesian furniture industry experienced a boom and turned to mass production of low-value furniture for national and international markets. This trend seriously compromised the sustainability of mahogany and teak plantations, and more recently the industry has stagnated, reducing the global market share.
The district of Jepara in Java is a key location for job creation and wood consumption, as furniture making is the backbone of local culture. Jepara produces about one third of the furniture of central Java, with 177,000 workers (many of them women) processing 1.5 to 2.2 million cubic meters of wood per year from approximately 15,000 small to large companies. There is a long tradition of high-quality furniture making in Jepara coupled with ready access to very high quality teak, and with the adoption of environmentally and socially sound practices, Jepara could become once again a strong competitor in international markets.
Inefficiencies throughout the value chain result in the over-harvesting of plantations, poor incentives for wood producers, and the misuse of wood resources. The Furniture Value Chains Project (FVC), launched by CIFOR, aims to improve the structure and function of the furniture industry from wood material acquisition to marketing. Researchers and stakeholders will assess value chain efficiency and jointly develop plans and actions to sustain forest resources, improve efficiency and value addition. The project will also work with small-scale producers (including women) to enhance their role in the industry and improve their market engagement, including analysis of financing schemes and behaviour to improve available financing. To ensure local and national impacts, CIFOR will collaborate with the Jepara Furniture Multi-stakeholder Forum (Forum Rembug Klaster or FRK), the Jepara local government, the Forestry Research and Development Agency (FORDA) of the Ministry of Forestry and the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) Faculty of Forestry.