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25 August 2009 - Nothing short of a ban acceptable for illegal timber imports      


Sydney, 25 August 2009                                                                                                                                              

Humane Society International (HSI) welcomes clarification today from Forestry Minister Tony Burke that the Rudd Government is not backing away from its election commitment to ban imports of illegally logged timber.  The clarification follows a newspaper article suggesting the Government had watered down this commitment.

Nevertheless, HSI understands the Department of Forestry is considering a range of options to restrict timber imports to Australia and not all of them include an outright ban.

“There is only one option to effectively implement the Government’s promise and that is to establish a strict legislative ban on imports of illegally sourced timber” said Nicola Beynon, Senior Program Manager at Humane Society International.  

Publication of a ‘Regulatory Impact Statement’ the Government commissioned from an independent consultancy on a range of options to restrict illegal timber imports has been delayed.

“HSI is concerned the Rudd Government needs to pedal faster on this election commitment. Imports of illegal timber should have been addressed several years ago when the extent of illegal timber imports to Australia was first revealed. We are playing catch up.

“We’ve long known deforestation is pushing species like the orangutan to the brink extinction, but now we also understand the major role it plays in climate change. We need to be closing our borders not just to timber that is sourced illegally but to that which is logged in ways that are biodiversity and climate unfriendly”.

The Government has committed to sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests as a longer term policy objective. “Unless deforestation and degradation of the world’s forests ceases in the very short term, it will be impossible to avoid dangerous climate change” warned Ms Beynon.

“Australia needs to move quickly to discourage imports of unsustainably produced timber even when it is legally produced. Unsustainable timber production is probably as serious a driver of biodiversity loss and carbon store destruction as illegal logging”, concluded Ms Beynon.

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