22 November 2012 — Importers of timber products and processors of raw logs will have to fulfil strict due diligence requirements with the passing of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act by the Senate this week.
As well, illegally logged timber will no longer be able to be imported into Australia.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Josh Meadows said the law gave more confidence to Australians buying imported wood products that they wouldn’t be inadvertently supporting illegal logging and the destruction of tropical rainforests in the Asia-Pacific region.
“It will cut off sales options for dodgy, destructive timber operators in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia,” he said.
“It will also help sustainable forestry in Australia by reducing unfair competition with cheap illegal imports.
“Our neighbours in Papua New Guinea, West Papua and Indonesia have been fighting against illegal logging of their forests and have been asking Australia to help them through legislation like this.”
During debate, Opposition senator Richard Colbeck said the coalition would not support the plan and that many of Australia’s trading partners had expressed concerns.
In August this year, website Timber.biz reported that Bob Tate, from the Papua New Guinea Forest Industries Association, said that he would prefer the law not be passed.
Mr Tate said while PNG only sent a small amount of timber to Australia the impact on the industry would be devastating.
Meanwhile, Indonesia would prefer Australia to recognise its own timber verification system, known as Timber Legality Verification System, introduced in 2010.