Choose language:


Australian timber act under way

19 April 2011

The Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, has referred draft legislation to ban importation of illegal timber to a Senate Standing Committee. The draft is currently under public consultation.

Strengthening global fight against illegal logging

The draft law provides a framework of requirements to operators in the market. In addition it lays down the specific penalties for a range of violations, including five years of imprisonment for importing products regulated by the Act, if these are found to be made from or contain illegally harvested timber.

“Following the US and EU, Australia is the third globally important market to ban illegal timber”, says Christian Sloth, Verification Services Manager of the Rainforest Alliance. “This move is welcomed by many stakeholders within and outside Australia, 
as it strengthens the global movement to make illegal logging history. As the world’s key markets close their doors on illegal timber products one by one, the risk that the illegal timber trade moves to new markets is diminishing”.

The Australian government estimates that each year around $400 million of Australia’s forest products imports (about 10% of the total import in 2008) were derived from sources “with some risk of being illegally logged”. When the Australian government announced its plans to draft a timber act, the Australian Workers' Union welcomed the move as a means of protecting jobs in the Australian domestic timber industry against unfair competition. 

Due diligence and code of conduct

Similar to the EU Timber Regulation, the Australian Act requires a special due diligence system to be established by those who place timber products on the Australian market for the first time - importers and domestic processors of raw logs.

"At NEPCon, we are currently working with European operators to develop tools and systems for ensuring future compliance with the EU Timber Regulation", explains Mr. Sloth. "The current development in Australia underlines that serious work to exclude illegal timber from the supply chain is of potentially great benefit within several key markets. The entire global marketplace is responding to legislative changes and increased demands for assurance from key buyers".

The due diligence requirements of the Australian legislation will be set out in regulations, which will allow the establishment of industry codes of conduct for relevant product sectors. Importers and raw timber processors who place wood products on the Australian market will face penalties, if they are not signatories to a relevant code of conduct. To administer these requirements, the Bill allows for the establishment of timber industry certifiers who will approve importers and domestic raw log processors as adhering to the legal logging requirements.

Related stories

Will the EU Timber Regulation be effective? (30/3 2011)
Large concessions in Africa embark on legality verification (28/2 2011)
Chatham House meeting: EU Illlegal Timber Law requires urgent action (1/2 2011)
Australia gets ready to ban illegal timber import (12/01 2011)
Are you ready for the new EU regulation on illegal timber? (13/10 2010)
Verified legal teak furniture from Indonesia hits the market (8/9 2010)
New Rainforest Alliance mark for verified companies (20/8 2010)
EU to crack down on illegal timber trade by 2012 (5/8 2010)