Stockpile of rosewood, Vietnam

Australia moves to outlaw stolen timber from its markets

Australia’s Parliament has today (November 19, 2012) voted in new legislation banning stolen timber from its markets.

The new laws were five years in the making and require all importers to carry out mandatory due diligence on timber and timber products sourced from overseas. Penalties for those found guilty of importing illegal logged timber include fines, jail terms and the forfeiture of goods.

The move sees Australia join the US and European Union as major timber marketplaces which have closed their doors to stolen wood – a major development in the international fight against a criminal global trade estimated to be worth about $30 billion a year.

“This is a fantastic move and we’re delighted to see Australia take such a significant step,” said EIA Forests Campaign leader Faith Doherty.

“Closing these huge international markets to stolen wood is a major blow to the timber barons and international criminal syndicates devastating the world’s remaining forests.

“With the US, EU and Australia closed to stolen timber, we’re now looking for China – a massive importer of illegal wood – to step up and join them by significantly reforming its laws and dramatically improving enforcement to stop the huge flows of illegal materials into its markets.”

An amendment to the Lacey Act in the US in 2008 prohibited stolen timber from the county’s markets; in the EU, a new Timber Regulation comes into effect in March next year which will require mandatory due diligence on timber and timber product imports.