Australia Joins Global Effort to Combat Illegal LoggingJoining the European Union, Switzerland and the United States, Australia has now introduced legislation to ban illegal timber from entering the Australian marketplace. Senator Joe Ludwig, the Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said the new laws will be instrumental in fostering global trade in legal timber products and will level the playing field between illegal and legal timber suppliers.
“Illegal logging is a major problem for many developing nations and directly threatens Australian timber jobs,” said Minister Ludwig. “After widespread industry consultation, the Australian Government will introduce legislation that carries penalties for importing illegally logged timber. Under the legislation, importers will now need to meet a due diligence test to ensure the timber they are sourcing has not been illegally logged.”
Instrumental in ushering in this new law was a coalition of timber merchants, retailers and environmental and social justice organizations who all banded behind the Greenpeace campaign “Say NO to Bad Wood”, including WWF and GFTN participants Bunnings, IKEA and Kimberly-Clark.
“Bunnings has pushed for this outcome since 2001 when we committed to a zero tolerance approach to illegal timber in our supply chain,” said Clive Duncan, General Manager, Marketing and Merchandising, Bunnings. “We welcome this announcement which matches our ongoing commitment to providing products that originate from legal and well managed forests.”
These new laws to ban illegal timber imports will ensure that Australia takes a leading role in the protection of the world’s most threatened forests, joining efforts like the EU’s “Due Diligence” regulation and the US Lacey Act.
“We commend the efforts by industry, the environmental community and the Australian government to put a stop to unfair competition that results from illegal logging,” said George White, Head of the GFTN. “However, for this legislation to truly be effective, there must be strict penalties to serve as a deterrent and enforcement actions that truly have teeth—sending a message throughout the global forest products industry that illegal timber is no longer welcome in the world’s leading markets.”
The new legislation will be introduced into Parliament in 2011 after a period of public consultation, during which WWF will provide continued feedback to ensure that the law is robust. Upon implementation, the Australian timber industry must clearly verify the legal origin of all timber products according to the requirements set out in the legislation, including products such as sawn timber, wood panels, pulp, paper, wooden furniture and composite products.
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