Australia’s illegal logging laws, like similar legislation in the European Union and the United States, has been designed to support the trade of legal timber into the Australian market. The laws consist of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (the Act) and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation).
The Act commenced on 28 November 2012 and establishes Australia’s illegal logging framework. The Act makes it a criminal offense to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly import wood, pulp and paper products into Australia or process Australian raw logs that have been illegally logged. It also outlines that businesses must undertake ‘due diligence’ on certain regulated processes.
The Regulation – due diligence
The Regulation commenced on 30 November 2014 and describes the due diligence process that businesses must undertake. Due diligence requires importers of regulated timber products and Australian processors of raw logs to minimize the risk that the wood or wood-fiber has been illegally logged.
The list of regulated timber products can be found here (pdf).
The due diligence process requires businesses to:
- Have a documented system that explains how the requirements will be met;
- Gather information about the products being imported and their supply chain;
- Assess the risk the wood or wood-fiber in these products has been illegally logged by:
- Timber Legality Framework where the imported product is certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards; or
- a Country Specific Guideline (CSG) where one is available, or
- a risk assessment against certain regulated risk factors;
- Mitigate any associated risks (where they aren’t already low); and
- Keep a written record of the process undertaken.
Each time an importer brings a product into Australia, they are also required to make a declaration about whether they have complied with the due diligence requirements.
Offences relating to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly dealing with illegally logged timber attract penalties of up to five years imprisonment and/or up to 500 penalty units (AUD$90,000 for an individual, and AUD$450,000 for a corporation or body corporate).
In May 2016, the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources announced an extension of the initial ‘soft-start’ compliance period, which will continue until late 2016 or early 2017. A notice will be released to advise when this compliance period will end, after which penalties may also apply to importers who fail to comply with due diligence requirements.
Further information about the Australian Government’s compliance process is available at: Illegal Logging Compliance.
Industry generated guidance materials
The Timber Development Association (TDA) and the Australian Timber Importers Federation (ATIF), with funding from the Australian Government, have developed a guidance package and Legality Compliance Toolkit. These provide a way of satisfying the new due diligence requirements.
- Due Diligence Tools and Guidance (TDA)
- Importer Training Seminars (TDA)
- Legality Compliance Toolkit (ATIF)
The Australian government has also developed factsheets for exporters to Australia, customs brokers, importers, and processors. Factsheets are also available in Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Country Specific Guidelines
Country Specific Guidelines (CSGs) have been developed between the Australian Government and some of their key trading partners to help importers to better understand the timber harvesting laws in place in a particular country and to simplify their due diligence arrangements. CSGs allow businesses to quickly identify the documents they can expect to obtain for timber harvested in those countries.
Country Specific Guidelines are currently available for Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands.
Illegal Logging E-Update
For the most up-to-date information on the Act and Regulation, visit the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ (DAFF) website. You can also subscribe to their mailing list to receive by email the latest information on the laws, as well as new guidance materials and upcoming events.
(This page was last updated June 2016)