Sydney, 23 November, 2011: Greenpeace has welcomed long anticipated legislation that criminalises the importation of illegally logged timber in Australia.
“The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill tabled in the House of Representatives today marks a significant step towards fulfilling Labor’s 2007 election pledge to ‘ban' the importation of illegal timber,” said Reece Turner, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner.
“This Bill puts traders of illegal timber on notice. Once it becomes law, those found guilty of importing illegal timber face a jail term of up to five years. Greenpeace commends the government for finally getting serious on this issue and looks forward to details of how the laws will be enforced,” said Turner.
“Part of Labor’s election promise was to require retailers of timber products to label and demonstrate proof of legality at point of sale. This is not in the Bill and makes it more critical for enforcement to be effective at the border. Without additional compliance officers and compliance resourcing it’s hard to see how this will occur,” said Turner.
Under the new laws, importers will be required to demonstrate due diligence when importing timber and wood products. This will include making a declaration of legality at customs and disclosing information such as country of origin, species and the value of the timber.
“Currently there is nothing in Australia to prevent the importation and sale of illegally logged timber. Most Australians would be shocked to learn they are unwittingly purchasing timber which has been stolen from local communities in countries like PNG, Indonesia and the Congo, often with devastating impacts,” said Turner.
Estimates of the trade of illegal timber products in Australia range from $480m to $840m per year. The key area of concern is tropical timber products such as outdoor furniture, decking and plywood but extends to pulp and paper products such as toilet roll and office paper.
Illegal timber comes from logging which is in breach of national legislation in the country of origin. This includes logging in national parks, outside of permits, logging which disregards traditional peoples’ rights and logging facilitated through corruption.
The Bill is expected to be debated and voted on early in 2012.
Contact: Greenpeace Communications Officer, Jessa Latona on 0488 208 465
The Bill and Explanatory Memorandum are available at this link: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=priority,title;page=0;query=Dataset_Phrase%3A%22billhome%22%20ParliamentNumber%3A%2243%22%20illegal;rec=0;resCount=Default
In August this year, Greenpeace exposed an example of illegal timber being imported, sold and used in a construction in Australia. See the Forest Crime File here: http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/what-we-do/forests/resources/reports/Forest-crime-file/