Putting a stop to illegal logging

by | Apr 18, 2024

The recently introduced amendments in Parliament have been established to strengthen laws that stop illegally logged timber from entering the Australian market.

Greater investment in timber testing technology, increased enforcement, expanded monitoring and investigation powers, as well as naming and shaming those who break the rules are all measures included in the new Bill.

It is estimated that up to 10 per cent of Australia’s annual timber and wood-based imports may be illegally logged and the trade in illegal imports reduces the price of legal timber globally by seven to 16 per cent.

The Bill aims to update and strengthen the Act to safeguard the Australian market from illegally harvested timber and timber products, while also promoting sustainable and legal timber trade.

In combination, these amendments to the laws will help make Australia an even less attractive destination for illegally sourced timber and further protect Australia’s reputation in international markets as a supplier of sustainable and legally sourced timber products.

This Bill will both uphold Australia’s reputation as a global leader through adopting further best-practice regulatory approaches, and help address the environmental, social, and economic harms of illegal logging and associated trade.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said the Illegal Logging Prohibition Amendment (Strengthening Measures to Prevent Illegal Timber Trade) Bill 2023 would modernise and strengthen current laws if successfully passed through Parliament.

“Australia’s illegal logging laws support a sustainable forestry industry and reduce the risk of it being undercut by illegal products,” Minister Watt said.

“Australia was among the first countries in the world to introduce laws targeting illegal timber and trade in 2012. Our laws restrict the import and sale of illegally logged timber and timber products, and processing of domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally harvested.”

“Reforms will enable the use of new innovations, including cutting-edge timber identification technologies, to strengthen our ability to identify and act against those who jeopardise Australia’s legal and sustainable timber trade,” Minister Watt said.

“We know that Australian timber producers and environmental groups alike want to see these tools and techniques used effectively in Australia.” 

Minister Watt says illegal logging is a complex global problem, with significant impacts on Australia’s forest industries.

“Illegal logging has devastating impacts on climate, nature, and people, and costs developing countries billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Australia is not immune, with trade in low-priced illegally sourced timber undermining supply chains, business decisions, industry profitability, investment, and jobs in the Australian economy,” he said.

Minister Watt says that modernising Australia’s laws will help make Australia an even less attractive destination for illegally sourced timber and further protect the country’s international reputation as a supplier of sustainable and legally sourced timber.

“The Bill will allow us to continue to lead global efforts to combat illegal logging now and into the future,” he concluded.

The new Bill proposes reforms to ensure laws remain fit for purpose as global efforts to combat illegal logging evolve. It will implement improvements identified through both the Statutory Review of the Illegal Logging Act and the Sunsetting Review of the Illegal Logging Regulation. 

Details on the review and consultation process for the proposed reforms can be found on the department’s website.