The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has fined 14 Australian furniture importers more than $186,000 because they didn’t act to minimise the risk of importing illegally harvested timber.
Holding importers to account
Head of Compliance and Enforcement at the department Peter Timson said Australia had strict requirements for importing timber and it was essential to hold importers to account.
“We are enforcing our powers to help combat illegal logging which has been linked to organised crime, civil unrest, corruption, species extinction and environmental destruction around the world,” Mr Timson said.
“Importers must conduct adequate due diligence assessments. They must understand where they are sourcing their timber from and to limit the risk of it being illegally harvested. These importers didn’t follow the rules and 14 fines were issued of $13,320 each.
Up to 10% of all imported timber could be illegal
Mr Timson said the illegal trade could comprise up to 10% of timber products entering Australia, undercutting domestic production, regional businesses, and communities.
“It’s important that Australians have confidence that their furniture, housing materials and other timber products come from sustainably and responsibly sourced timber,” he said.
“Australia’s strict timber importing requirements set a high bar internationally. We also work with APEC member economies and relevant international organisations to combat the trade in illegally logged timber products globally.”
The fines were issued under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.
- The due diligence system requires importers to demonstrate that they understand where the timber in their product has come from and what species it is.
- The federal government introduced the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation and Illegal Logging Prohibition Act in 2012, prohibiting the importation and sale of all timber products containing illegally logged timber. Due diligence requirements commenced on November 30. 2014
- The department recently completed its Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 Sunsetting Review following consultation with industry and the public. The review resulted in recommendations to strengthen the department’s regulatory powers.
The minister has since agreed to pursue the recommended legislative reforms informed by the review. The department is now progressing these reforms that required changes to both the Act and Regulations. This will be considered by the government once substantially drafted.
For further information on importing timber products to Australia, please visit the Departments dedicated website.