Illegal timber ban announced today

Feature Story - 9 December, 2010
The biggest names from Australia’s timber industry joined leading social justice and environment groups today to welcome the federal government’s announcement of new laws to ban illegal timber imports.

23 February 2006 Lake Murray, Papua New Guinea - Sep Galeva, in a forest Catfish Clan on the banks of Lake Murray. Over $840 million worth of illegal timber arrives in Australia each year from countries in our region like Papua New Guinea or Indonesia.

The new laws will see Australia take a leading role in protection of the world's most threatened forests and, if backed by strict penalties and rigorous enforcement, could be the best of their kind in the world.

Greenpeace has been working in the region for over ten years to try end devastating illegal logging practices. Closing illegal timber markets, such as in Australia, is essential in the fight to protect forests, livelihoods and the climate.

"Each year $840 million worth of illegal timber and wood products such as toilet roll and timber decking end up in the homes and offices of ordinary Australians," said Head of Greenpeace Campaigns, Stephen Campbell. "Illegal logging destroys the habitats of endangered species, takes away the rights of indigenous landowners and drives climate change. It is essential that this trade in illegal timber be criminalized - anyone found to be knowingly importing illegal timber and wood products should face strict sanctions including import license revocations and possible jail terms."

Unusual alliance

In an unlikely alliance spearheaded by Greenpeace last year, leading timber merchants and retailers including IKEA, Kimberly-Clark and Bunnings joined environment, social justice and church groups to call on the government to come good on this election promise made in August.

Social costs

"The Uniting Church welcomes the further work on the social costs of illegal logging. Illegal logging is built on corruption. Acting to ban illegally sourced timber is part of what Australia should be doing to meet its international obligations to combat corruption," said Dr Mark Zirnsak from the Uniting Church.

Good for industry

"Bunnings has pushed for this outcome since 2001 when we committed to a zero tolerance approach to illegal timber in our supply chain in consultation with Greenpeace.  We welcome this announcement which matches our ongoing commitment to providing products that originate from legal and well managed forests," said Clive Duncan, Bunnings General Manager, Merchandising and Marketing.

"It's in the interest of Australian businesses that effective measures to stop illegal forest products are brought in. Pulp and paper products represent a significant proportion of the timber products that Australia imports every year and we are pleased to see them included in the legislation," said Ross Hearne, General Manager of Corporate Services for Kimberly-Clark.

Cheers to you!

The announcement today is also thanks to the thousand of Greenpeace supporters taking action on this vital issue. Thank you everyone who took part!

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