On 1 December 2014, the Government announced an independent review of the impact of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 on small business.
The review does not affect or delay the commencement of the due diligence requirements.
Promoting the trade in legally harvested timber
Illegal logging is a significant problem in many countries. It degrades forest environments, reduces biodiversity, undermines government regimes and revenues, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and deprives local communities of opportunities to improve their quality of life.
The Australian Government is committed to combating such destructive activities while also supporting the trade in legally harvested timber and timber products.
The law has changed
Legislation designed to promote the trade in legally logged timber and timber products is now law. If you are a business importing timber or timber products into Australia or processing domestically grown raw logs you need to be aware of your new responsibilities.
A summary of the key elements of the illegal logging laws is set out below.
Promoting the trade in legally harvested timber: Key elements
Element 1: High-level prohibition
Source: Illegal logging Prohibition Act 2012
Commences: Came into effect in November 2012.
Key elements: Makes it a criminal offence to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly import or process illegally logged timber or timber products.
Affects: Businesses importing any timber or timber products into Australia and processors of domestically grown raw logs.
Element 2: Due diligence requirements
Source: Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012
Commences: Came into effect 30 November 2014.
Key elements: Businesses need to assess and manage the risk that the timber or timber products they are importing for processing has been illegally logged. Known as carrying out due diligence.
Affects: Businesses importing certain timber or timber products (as defined in the regulation) into Australia and processors of domestically grown raw logs.
The department has developed a position paper PDF [189 KB] Word [1.8 MB] outlining how it will work with and support industry with the illegal logging laws and new due diligence requirements.
The cost of illegal logging
Illegal logging has significant environmental, economic and social costs.
The Organisation for Economic Co–operation and Development estimates that between 5 to 10 per cent of global industrial round wood trade is potentially illegally harvested. In some high risk countries illegally logged timber is estimated to account for between 20 and 70 per cent of total timber production. This translates to a loss of assets and revenue in developing countries of up to US$23 billion every year.
The trade in illegal timber also disadvantages legitimate Australian businesses, undercutting market prices and threatening local investment, profitability and jobs. In 2014, the United Nations Environment Program estimated that the value of illegal logging is up to US$100 billion annually, representing up to 30 per cent of the total global timber trade1.
Illegal logging degrades forest environments, reduces biodiversity, undermines government regimes and revenues, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation and deprives local communities of an opportunity to improve their quality of life.
Why is Australia taking action?
Australia imports approximately AUD$4.4 billion of timber and wood products (excluding furniture) annually. It is estimated that each year up to AUD$400 million of Australia’s forest products imports come from sources with some risk of being illegally logged2.
As a responsible member of the global community, it is in Australia’s interests to protect plants and animals and the environment, promote sustainable forest management and reduce the depletion of exhaustible natural resources that are threatened by illegal logging.
As a producer of timber products, it is in our interest to promote the trade in legally logged timber. By strengthening our laws, we are making Australia a less attractive destination for cheap illegal timber and timber products that can undercut legitimate Australian businesses. We are also strengthening our reputation in domestic and international markets.
Australia is not alone in taking action against illegal logging. The illegal logging laws complement legislation that has been introduced by the European Union and the United States. These actions have already started to change market behaviour.
Further information on the environmental, economic and social costs associated with illegal logging can be found in the reports included on the further information and resources webpage.
If you need further information on how the laws operate and whether they affect your business, you can contact the department via:
- phone during business hours (8.30am to 5.30pm) on 1800 657 313 or if outside of Australia +61 2 6272 3933
- emailillegal logging
- subscribe to the illegal logging mailing list to stay informed of the release of any new information or guidance materials or any upcoming information events
1. United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal, 2014, The Environmental Crime Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources, Nairobi, Kenya and Arendal, Norway
2 JP Management Consulting (Asia Pacific) Pty Ltd, 2005, Overview of Illegal Logging: A report prepared for the Australian Government, Melbourne, Australia