TIME TO SEE REAL ACTION TO BAN IMPORT OF ILLEGALLY LOGGED TIMBER
Humane Society International (HSI) welcomed the Government’s announcement yesterday that it will introduce legislation restricting the importation and sale of illegally logged timber.
“This is an action that we have been long calling for”, said Rod Holesgrove, HSI’s Biodiversity Policy Adviser. “Under the Howard Government a voluntary scheme was in place and Labor promised to introduce legislation before the 2007 election but did not deliver”.
“This time the Government must deliver on its commitments”, Mr Holesgrove said.
Illegal logging of timber in the Asia Pacific region is a major cause of loss of biodiversity including the loss of habitat of iconic species of the region including Orangutans. Illegal logging results in a significant loss of income to the developing economies of the region and contributes to the loss of the world’s critical green carbon stores.
“ Unless deforestation and degradation of the world’s forests ceases in the very short term, it will be impossible to limit average global temperature rises, to less than 2 degrees Celsius,” Mr Holesgrove said.
Internationally, HSI has been lobbying hard for an effective REDD+
( Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Counties ) mechanism under a new global climate change agreement.
“But notwithstanding a hopefully good outcome on REDD + , all countries need to deal with the causes of deforestation and one essential step is to reduce illegal logging”, said Mr Holesgrove.
HSI calls on the Government to consider in the legislation, broadening the term 'timber' to include other forest products. This will further assist in maintaining the biodiversity of natural tropical forests.
The Government’s committment that the legislation would require importers to meet a due diligence test is also welcomed by HSI. However this will require effective chain of custody paperwork requirements and HSI is interested in working with the Government on this.
Finally, while dealing with illegal logging is a critical first step, HSI also calls on the Government to increase its support for efforts of developing countries in the region to introduce environmentally sustainable forest logging regimes, as dealing with illegally logged forest will not on its own be sufficient.