23 November 2011
The Australian Government today introduced legislation prohibiting the importation and sale of illegally logged timber which has been estimated to cost $60 billion each year in environmental and social costs internationally.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill (2011) shows how far the Australian Government is prepared to go to stop illegal logging.
“Illegal logging is a major problem for many developing nations, causing forest degradation, loss of habitat and biodiversity, threatening sustainable livelihoods and contributing to global carbon emissions,” said Minister Ludwig.
“It also directly threatens Australian timber jobs by undercutting the price of legally logged timber.
“This legislation will lead to an even economic playing field for the purchase and sale of legally logged timber products in Australia and will give consumers and businesses greater certainty about the legality of the timber products they buy.”
The bill carries significant penalties for importing illegally logged timber or processing illegally harvested domestic raw logs, including imprisonment or a significant financial penalty, or both.
Importers of regulated timber products and processors of domestic raw logs will have to prove that the timber they source has not been illegally logged. They will have two years from commencement of the legislation to establish their systems and processes.
To date, Australian industry has relied on self-regulation to verify the legal origins of imported timber through a mix of voluntary procurement policies and procedures. In doing so, a number of Australian businesses and industry organisations have led the way in developing specific codes of conduct, codes of ethics and industry schemes for the procurement of legally logged timber.
This initiative aligns with international initiatives, including measures developed by the United States and European Union, and further strengthens Australia’s leadership position in the Asia–Pacific region in promoting trade in legally harvested timber products.
“I commend our industry partners and non-government organisations for their ongoing input to the Australian Government on this important legislation since 2008,” Minister Ludwig said.
Further information about illegal logging can be found at www.daff.gov.au/illegallogging.