Timber importers face prison threat in Australia25 November 2011
Imprisonment is one of the penalties facing timber importers in the Australian government’s new legislation prohibiting the importation and sale of illegally logged timber.
The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill (2011), now being debated in Parliament, carries other significant penalties for importing illegally logged timber or processing illegally harvested domestic raw logs, including large fines.
Senator Joe Ludwig, Australian forestry minister, said the legislation showed how far the Australian government was prepared to go to stop illegal logging.
Illegal timber imports “directly threatens” Australian timber jobs by undercutting the price of legally logged timber, he said.
“This legislation will lead to an even economic playing field for the purchase and sale of legally logged timber products in Australia and will give consumers and businesses greater certainty about the legality of the timber products they buy.”
Importers of regulated timber products and processors of domestic raw logs will have to prove that the timber they source has not been illegally logged. There is now a two-year grace period while they establish their systems and processes.
To date, Australian industry has relied on self-regulation to verify the legal origins of imported timber through a mix of voluntary procurement policies and procedures.
The government said its law aligned itself with other similar international initiatives against illegal logging, such as the Lacey Act in the US and the EU Timber Regulation.