Good news for the forests of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and communities around the world suffering at the hands of illegal logging: the Australian Federal Minister for Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, has agreed that it must come to an end. He has vowed to ban the importation of illegally logged and unsustainable timber into Australia.
Pictured in the banner are members of the Batamoa clan, whose lives are being destroyed by logging in Papua New Guinea.
After a blockade by Greenpeace activists in Brisbane, Australia, Senator Macdonald spoke out on Australian national radio: "I would hope we would be able to work on this and get in place a proper regime which prohibits imports from forests that are not sustainably managed within the next 6-12 months."
"I do think some of the most important forests in the world are being destroyed through illegal logging and I do think we have to, through the world community, stop the destruction of these very special forests," he said.
|What was the blockade for?
|Senator Macdonald's announcement follows a Greenpeace blockade of a Brisbane-based subsidiary of Malaysian logging giant, Rimbunan Hijau. Rimbunan Hijau PNG were recently exposed for human rights abuses of indigenous landowners on Australian TV channel SBS's Dateline program.
This decision will be welcomed by forest communities in PNG, Indonesia and around the world who are having their environment destroyed and their human rights abused by unscrupulous logging operators.
Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Katerina Lecchi congratulated the senator on his strong and swift commitment.
"We look forward to the introduction of strong legislation next year to ban the importation of all illegally logged and unsustainable timber products into Australia," she said.
The next challenge is to develop legislation that will guarantee the protection of vulnerable forests and the communities that depend on them.
The most credible way to guarantee that timber is not being harvested illegally, or causing environmental or social destruction, is through accredited third-party certification schemes. The best example is the Forest Stewardship Council™Certification Scheme (FSC®).
Australia can now take a strong leadership role in the Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance process (FLEG), and be a role model in the international community to close down the trade in illegal and destructive timber.
Read the transcript from Mark Colvin's ABC Local Radio program 'PM'
Read an interview with Katerina Lecchi, Greenpeace campaigner, on ABC radio
Read "The Untouchables" report, learn more about this issue (pdf, 1.9MB)
Ask the Australian government to more effectively fight corruption in the timber industry
Help Greenpeace fight illegal logging worldwide - join Greenpeace!