E-updates

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The Illegal logging laws e-update is a regular, online newsletter providing readers with the latest news on Australia’s illegal logging laws as well as other relevant information for importers, customs brokers and timber processors.​

Recent illegal logging laws e-updates

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E-update 21: August 2017
Key topics include: New materials and guidance information now available; Domestic Processor Assessments continue; Timber sourcing from fragile and conflict affected countries; International news

New materials and guidance information now available

One of the key recommendations from the Independent revie​w of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business report was that the department needed to develop clearer and more easily understood guidance materials on the illegal logging laws.

Since the report was released, we have been working to improve our existing suite of guidance information and resources.

Now available is a refreshed set of illegal logging webpages providing the regulated community with an essential understanding of the laws, as well as other new due diligence guidance materials.

We will continue providing further updates on new and improved guidance materials and resources as they become available.

Let us know what you think! We welcome your feedback on the new materials and refreshed webpages. You can contact us via the Illegal Logging inbox with your feedback and suggestions.

Visit: Illegal Logging website

Domestic Processor Compliance Assessments continue

2017 Desktop compliance assessments continue this month in Tasmania, looking at how domestic processors are complying with the due diligence requirements of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.

Assessments are undertaken with a view to raise awareness and educate the regulated community on how to comply. The department is working with businesses and providing feedback on whether their due diligence systems meet the requirements under the Regulation and if improvements may be required in order to comply in the future.

The ‘soft-start’ compliance period remains in effect which means, during this period, the department is not issuing sanctions to businesses who have not fully met their due diligence obligations. Where there are serious breaches of the laws however, such as deliberately importing illegally logged timber products, the department will take action.

For further information on the desktop assessment process, how the laws operate and whether they affect your business, you can contact the department:​

visit the department’s website for further information for domestic processors 

phone the department during business hours on 1800 657 313 or if outside of Australia
+61 2 6272 3933

emailILCA

Report - Timber sourcing from fragile and conflict affected countries

A report released by the Forest Trends Association in June this year, presents data and research into timber products sourced from fragile and conflict-affected areas.

In relation to the purchase and importing of timber, it highlights that political instability and violence inherent to these situations could indicate significant likelihood of buying illegal timber.

Under the due diligence requirements of the Australian illegal logging laws, importers must obtain information about the wood, pulp and paper products they intend to import into Australia and undertake a due diligence process to comply with the requirements for the Regulation.

The Regulation allows importers to undertake a risk assessment using one of three methods. The “regulated risk factors” method asks importers to consider several risk factors, one of which is the occurrence of armed conflict in the area of harvest, to determine legality for regulated timber products.

This Australian due diligence requirement complements those in other regulations such as the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and Due Care requirements of the US Lacy Act. While it is possible to purchase and import from such areas, it is important to be aware that areas of armed conflict may make it difficult for the relevant authorities to control forest resources and to ensure legal management of timber extraction from such areas.

Read more: the report is available on the Forest Trends website, and for more information on Australia’s Illegal Logging laws and due diligence requirements, visit Illegal logging laws explained for importers.

International News

EU and Vietnam finalise illegal logging negotiations

The EU and Vietnam concluded negotiations in May on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU, and other markets.

Read more:EU and Vietnam complete negotiations on a deal to combat illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber

27th Illegal Logging Update and Stakeholder Consultation Meeting

The two-day event held in June at Chatham House in London, is part of a series of illegal logging meetings. It brought together more than 250 participants from civil society, industry and governments from around the world and provided an update on global efforts to improve forest governance and reduce illegal logging.

The meeting was held in English, French and Mandarin. Topics on the agenda included:

  • Timber trade regulations - approaches from around the world;
  • Update on the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan and Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) countries;
  • Recent developments in China to tackle the trade in illegal timber and promote responsible overseas investment; and
  • Improving transparency through forest monitoring and satellite technology.

Presentations from the meeting are available to download from the Chatham House Illegal Logging Portal.

Tackling illegal logging and deforestation conference

The European Commission held an international conference ‘Tackling illegal logging and deforestation: progress made and opportunities for future action' in Brussels on 21 to 23 June 2017. 

The conference discussed issues including deforestation and forest degradation at a global level, existing initiatives from governments, private sector and civil society organisations addressing deforestation.

More information and presentations are available to download from the conference website.

Other news

Australia forest and wood products statistics

Our forests play a vital role in sustaining communities, economies and the environment here in Australia and the industry provides more than 64,000 jobs for people across the country. The forest and wood products industry also contributes a significant $22 billion to our economy.

Australia’s sustainable forest products industry achieved a record plantation log harvest in 2015 – 16. Statistics reported in the latest Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report - Australian forest and wood products statistics – the harvest has increased in both value and volume to more than 30 million cubic metres, and worth over $2.3 billion.

Read more:Australia forest and wood products statistics report

E-update 20:
Key topics include: Malaysia Country Specific Guideline now updated; 2017 WA compliance assessments; 2017 penalty unit increase; Article by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources; Redline – reporting biosecurity breaches and International news  

Updated Malaysia Country Specific Guidelines now online

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has negotiated and developed eight Country Specific Guidelines (CSGs) which are published on the department’s website.

These detailed documents are available to help importers better understand legal frameworks established in other countries to regulate the harvesting of timber. The information assists the risk assessment element of the due diligence process under the illegal logging laws.

CSGs are negotiated by the department and the government of the exporting country. We continue to work with the eight established CSG partners to ensure the accuracy of information provided in the documents.

The Malaysia CSG was originally endorsed in February 2015 and three guidelines were developed as the countries forestry and timber industry operates in three defined regions; Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak. In March 2017, revisions to each CSG were agreed by the department and its Malaysian counterparts to ensure the content remains up to date to support importers in Australia conducting their diligence.  The updates include -

  • the Peninsular document has been updated to reflect new provincial import legality regulations which came into effect from 3 January 2017, which supports Malaysian importers in identifying legal timber sources.
  • the Sarawak document has been updated to reflect revisions to provincial Act names.
  • each of the three CSG documents have received updates to their example documentation, which importers may use to assist in conducting their risk assessment.

The department continues to work with foreign governments to establish new CSGs with other key trading partners to ensure Australian importers can undertake an informed risk assessment of the legality of their timber products.

You can view and download a copy of the suite of CSGs via our Illegal logging guidance material and resources.

If you have any questions about the CSGs, how the laws operate and whether they affect your business, please contact us at Illegal Logging.

2017 Compliance Assessments WA

Desktop compliance assessments in Western Australia have commenced, looking at how domestic processors are complying with the due diligence requirements of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012

Assessments are undertaken with a view to raise awareness and educate the regulated community on how to comply. The department will be working with businesses and providing feedback on whether their due diligence systems meet the requirements under the regulation and if improvements may be required in order to comply in the future.

The ‘soft-start’ compliance period is still in effect, which means during this period, the department is not issuing sanctions to businesses who have not fully met their due diligence obligations. Where there are serious breaches of the laws however, such as deliberately importing illegally logged timber products, the department will take action.

For further information on the desktop assessment process, how the laws operate and whether they affect your business, you can contact the department via:​

  • visit the department’s website for further information for domestic processors 
  • phone the department during business hours on 1800 657 313 or if outside of Australia +61 2 6272 3933
  • emailIllegal Logging

Penalty unit increase in 2017

While the department is committed to further educating and assisting the regulated and wider community on how to comply with the Illegal Logging laws, it is important to note that penalties do exist for serious and deliberate breaches of the laws. Investigation and criminal prosecution action can be taken when such breaches of the legislation are uncovered.

This means that if you are importing timber, wood paper or pulp products into Australia and you receive information that the timber in the product was illegally logged, have reason to suspect it was illegally logged, or you think that there is a significant risk that it was illegally logged, you should not import those products.

On 28 March 2017, the House of Representatives passed amendments to the Commonwealth penalty units, which changes the penalties associated with serious breaches of the illegal logging laws. The amendment increases the amount of the Commonwealth penalty unit from $180 to $210 and takes effect from 1 July 2017.

Penalties for serious and deliberate breaches of the illegal logging laws are ultimately at the discretion of a court, however they can now include heavy fines of up to $105,000 for individuals, up to $525,000 for a body corporate or corporation, and potential imprisonment of up to 5 years.

Read more:Crimes Amendment (Penalty Unit) Bill 2017

International News

Tackling illegal logging and deforestation conference – 21 to 23 June, Brussels Belgium

The European Commission is holding an international conference ‘Tackling illegal logging and deforestation: progress made and opportunities for future action' in Brussels from 21 to 23 June 2017.

The event is co-organised by the European Commission Departments for Development (DEVCO) and Environment (ENV) and aims to engage European and international stakeholders from government, civil society and business on the future work plan for the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan (2017-2020). It will also provide an opportunity to discuss future action on deforestation and forest degradation.

A detailed programme will be available in the coming weeks. If you are interested in participating in this event, please send your details via email to Barbara Casado.

Other News

Article by Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

The Australian Government continues to acknowledge and support the vital role forests play in sustaining communities, economies and the environment here in Australia and around the world. Not only does the industry provide jobs for more than 69,000 people in Australia, it also contributes a significant $22 billion to our economy.

Australia’s forest products sector is dependent on the sustainable use of both our native forests and plantation resources. This sustainable forest management is underpinned by the effective planning and management systems that have been established at all levels of government. I remain enthusiastic about the future of our growing forest industry, one that is far more than just sawlogs and wood chips. The sector presents us a range of new opportunities to explore, including carbon farming, bio-energy and bio-products.

I am proud that we are maintaining our long-term commitment to a range of forestry priorities including, for example, the Regional Forestry Agreements and our illegal logging laws. It is through these policy and legislative measures that Australia continues to be recognised as a source of sustainable timber and wood-based products.

Read more: The full article, Growing intolerance for illegal timber underpins global sustainability in forest products appears on page 22 of the current issue of online publication Australian Forests & Timber News.

Redline – report a biosecurity breach

Did you know, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has a free service available to confidentially report information about suspected breaches of Australian biosecurity laws?

Redline allows callers to report matters that may not be detected, reported or acted on through other means. It is available for all of the key legislation administered by the department including quarantine, biosecurity and illegal logging.

Australia’s timber import market continues to grow significantly, it has been estimated that each year, up to ten per cent of timber and wood based products come from sources with high risk of being illegally logged.

As a responsible member of the global community, it is in our interest to continue promoting sustainable forest management and reduce the depletion of exhaustible natural resources that are threatened by illegal logging.

Some of the best people to spot breaches of Australia’s illegal logging laws in a workplace or wider community are those who are there every day. As we go about our daily lives, we can keep an eye out for anything that may seem unusual or suspicious. Whether or not something is suspicious can depend on the circumstances. Look at the situation as a whole. If it doesn’t add up and looks like a risk to our illegal logging laws then call the Redline.

The Redline call should contain information about:

  • a person or company operating in Australia or importing goods into Australia
  • sufficient details that could identity a breach of legislation
  • information that has made you suspicious that may contribute to the department detecting a risk or a breach of legislation.

Information supplied is valued, as callers are helping to protect Australia.

REDLINE 1800 803 006

Read more:Redline – report a biosecurity breach

Rosewood trader convicted in Singapore after historic CITES seizure

A high court in Singapore has found Wong Wee Keong and his company, Kong Hoo, guilty of importing rosewood from Madagascar in 2014 in violation of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Environmental groups are heralding the ruling, which reversed the decision of a lower court and sidestepped conflicting claims about the legality of the shipment by Malagasy authorities. The shipment of nearly 30,000 logs to Singapore was larger than all of the other seizures of rosewood in the world, combined, over the past decade.

Read more: original article – Singapore convicts rosewood trader in historic CITES seizure

Timber baron sentenced to 19 years

It has been reported that a Dutch court has sentenced the head of the Oriental Timber Corporation to 19 years in prison for war crimes and arms smuggling during Liberian civil war. The international timber trader used his business as cover for smuggling weapons into West Africa in defiance of a UN arms embargo. It is claimed the campaign was largely funded through the sale of diamonds and timber plundered from Liberia’s rainforests.

The full press release is available on Global Witness and was published on 21 April 2017.

E-update 19:
Key topics include: International Day of Forests; Reforming Australia’s Illegal Logging regulations; Updated tariff codes; 2017 compliance materials and assessments; New illegal logging communications materials and International News

21 March 2017: International Day of Forests

Today is International Day of Forests, an event that seeks to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Annually, on the 21 March, countries, communities and organisations around the world celebrate the International Day of Forests. Every year, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national, and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees.

Tree planting, forest excursions, mini-video shoots and educational activities are among the many awareness-raising events taking place under this year’s theme of "Forests and Energy". This theme has been chosen to encourage more visionary thinking about forests as a source of renewable energy, now and into the future.

Further information?

You can visit the International Day of Forests website to learn more about the day and other ways the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is encouraging the world to support our forests.

Reforming Australia’s Illegal Logging regulations
Where are we now?

In November last year, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) released a consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) paper outlining potential options for amending the illegal logging due diligence requirements.

The consultation period closed at the end of December 2016, with 46 submissions received from a range of domestic and international stakeholders. These included submissions from regulated businesses, industry associations, environmental organisations, forest certification organisations and foreign governments.

The department is currently analysing the feedback received and developing its advice to the Australian Government on preferred reform/s.

The current process means the initial ‘soft-start’ compliance period is still in effect. During this period, the department is not issuing fines or penalties for non-compliance with the due diligence requirements. However the department will act if we become aware of serious and deliberate breaches of the legislation.

The soft-start period will continue until any amendments arising from the current review have been finalised. The review process is expected to be finalised mid-2017.

Further Information

If you have any questions about the review process, how the laws operate, and whether they affect your business, please contact us at: Illegal Logging.

Read more: Illegal Logging webpage

Update of regulated tariff codes

The department recently progressed some minor amendments to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012. These amended Schedule 1 of the Regulation, which sets out the type of imported timber products (listed by their tariff codes) that require due diligence.

The amendments entered into force in mid-February 2017 and reflect recent internationally agreed changes to the Harmonised System of Tariff Codes. The amendments:

  • added a newly created tariff code for tropical wood flooring products (4409.22.00) to Schedule 1 of the Regulation. This prevented the recent changes to the Harmonised System of Tariff Codes from inadvertently moving these products outside of the Regulation’s scope.
  • amended the existing 9406.00.00 regulated tariff code to specifically focus on the newly created tariff code 9406.10.00 (prefabricated buildings of wood). This means that the Regulation no longer regulates prefabricated buildings that do not contain timber.  

For regulated importers the amendments should not have any significant impact. They simply amend Schedule 1 to ensure that the existing scope of regulated timber products is maintained.

Further Information?

Parties needing further information about the tariff code amendments can contact us at: Illegal Logging.

New compliance documents

The department has recently published its Illegal Logging Compliance Statement and Illegal Logging Compliance Plan 2017. These documents outline how the department will manage its future illegal logging compliance activities.

The Illegal Logging Compliance Statement outlines our general approach to illegal logging compliance activities. It explains how we will seek to help businesses to comply with their obligations under Australia’s illegal logging laws and respond to any incidents of non-compliance.

The Illegal Logging Compliance Plan 2017 outlines our plan for managing illegal logging compliance risks and assessments over the coming year. It notes that during this period we will focus on:

  • building our intelligence knowledge base to better understand the risks associated with certain pathways and products; and
  • raising awareness of laws and providing improved guidance material in order to assist importers and domestic processors to comply with their due diligence requirements.

We have also published the Illegal Logging Compliance Assessment Report, which outlines the department’s key findings from our initial round of compliance assessments.

All of these documents can be viewed on the department’s refreshed compliance webpages.

Further information?

Any questions regarding the compliance program can be directed to our illegal logging compliance team at ILCA or by phoning the department on 1800 657 313.

2017 Processor Compliance Assessments

The department will soon commence its first round of 2017 desktop compliance assessments. These assessments will start in Queensland and look at how businesses that process domestically grown raw logs are complying with the illegal logging laws’ due diligence requirements.

In carrying out these assessments, we will be working with the processing industry to raise general awareness of the due diligence requirements and educate businesses on how to comply with the laws. We will be working with the selected businesses to provide feedback on their due diligence systems and to identify where any improvements may be required.

Further information?

Any questions regarding the upcoming compliance assessments can be directed to our illegal logging compliance team at ILCA or by phoning the department on 1800 657 313.

New illegal logging communication materials

One of the key recommendations of the Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business report, was that the department needed to develop clearer and more easily understood guidance materials on the illegal logging laws.

Since the report was released, we have been examining how we might improve our existing suite of communication and guidance materials.

Over the coming months, we will be releasing a range of new and updated information products. This will include a refreshed set of illegal logging webpages, which will provide regulated businesses with an essential understanding of the laws, as well as other new due diligence guidance materials.

Further information?

We welcome your feedback on the new materials as they become available. You can contact us via Illegal Logging with your feedback and suggestions.

International news:

FSC disassociates itself from the Schweighofer Group

In February 2017, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) announced that it had disassociated itself from Austrian timber trading company, the Schweighofer Group. This decision was taken by FSC’s International Board of Directors after further information about the company’s alleged violation of timber standards was brought to its attention.

The Schweighofer Group had already been put on probation by the FSC after information emerged in 2016 linking it to wide-spread illegal logging practices in Romania.

The FSC board considered that these allegations, if confirmed, could mean that Schweighofer products that do not comply with the FSC’s standards and policies might be traded through international supply chains, a situation that was considered unacceptable to the FSC.

The Schweighofer Group has reportedly informed the FSC that it accepts the decision and has decided to terminate its FSC certificates with immediate effect.

Further information?

The FSC’s media release announcing their disassociation from the Schweighofer Group can be found at: FSC revokes probation and disassociates from the Schweighofer Group news article

IUFRO: Global Assessment report

On 3 December 2016, the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) released a global assessment report on "Illegal Logging and Related Timber Trade – Dimensions, Drivers, Impacts and Responses". This report looks at the many facets of illegal logging and how such activities affect the world’s forests, people and businesses. It also examines the key markets, actors, wood flows, and supply chains involved in the illegal timber trade.

Further information?

The IUFRO’s report can be found at: Illegal Logging and Related Timber Trade – Dimensions, Drivers, Impacts and Responses.

E-update 18:
Key topics include: Release of the Illegal Logging Consultation Regulation Impact Statement, Clarification of misinformation in online publication, The wait is over. FLEGT licences are coming, Illegal Myanmar teak importation widespread to EU

Release of the Illegal Logging Consultation Regulation Impact Statement

On 16 November, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) released a consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) paper outlining a range of options for amending the regulation.

The Department is examining options for amending Australia's Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 to improve the trade-off between the costs of complying with the Regulation's 'due diligence' requirements and the risk of illegally logged timber entering Australia.

The consultation paper has been developed to encourage stakeholder discussion and feedback on the proposed regulatory options. Feedback received will help develop a final RIS that will be provided to the government for its consideration and guide any final decisions on amendments to the Regulation.

It is anticipated that any regulatory changes will be communicated in the first half of 2017.

Make a submission

The department welcomes submissions from domestic and international stakeholders on the options discussed in the consultation paper.

Businesses and individuals who import regulated timber products or process domestically grown raw logs, customs service providers, relevant industry associations, state and territory governments, trading partners, environmental and social organisations and the general public are all encouraged to contribute.

Submissions may address some or all of the questions raised throughout the consultation paper, or raise a matter not explicitly addressed, as long as it is applicable to the proposed reforms to the Australia Government's illegal logging regulations.

Where possible, parties making submissions are encouraged to include supporting evidence, data, and examples to underpin their views as this will assist the department's understanding of the impacts of the proposed regulatory options.

Your views will help inform and guide the development of a final RIS that will be provided to the government for its consideration of any final decisions on amendments to the Regulation.

Email submissions toIllegal Logging

Submissions are sought by 12.30pm AEDT, 23 December 2016.

Further Information

A range of supporting documents are available to assist industry associations to understand and effectively communicate about the RIS to their members.

To access a copy of the documents, please email Illegal Logging.

You can also direct any questions about the consultation paper to this address.

Clarification of misinformation in online publication

The department is aware of an article published in the Timber and Forestry E-news on November 4, 2016 titled "Storm brews over illegal merbau imports" reporting a seizure of goods and investigation into illegal merbau imports.

The department takes compliance responsibilities in relation to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 seriously. We use a best practice regulation model to verify timber trader due diligence and import practices and we thoroughly investigate allegations of non-compliance.

While the department is unable to comment on the specific details of our current or ongoing investigations we can confirm there has been no seizure of a Merbau timber shipment under the illegal logging laws.

The department encourages all Australian timber importers and processors to stay vigilant when undertaking illegal logging due diligence assessments and report any suspicious products/suppliers to the department's Redline on 1800 803 006. Visit Redline for further details.

International News

The wait is over. FLEGT licences are coming

Indonesia and the European Union today agreed that from 15 November 2016 Indonesia can issue 'FLEGT' licences to verified legal timber products it exports to the EU.

The decision makes Indonesia the first country in the world to achieve this major milestone in the global effort to combat illegal logging and associated illegal timber trade.

It means that, for the first time ever, the EU is exempting an entire country's timber exports from the due diligence requirements of its EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits trade in illegally harvested timber products.

Read more:FLEGT Licences news article

Illegal Myanmar teak importation widespread to EU

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released allegations Tuesday 18 October about what it says is the illegal importation of Burmese teak from Myanmar to the EU.

In a two-month undercover investigation, staff from EIA, a UK-based campaigning organization, posed as prospective buyers and approached nine importers working in five EU countries. In a brief, the organization reports that companies consistently failed to pinpoint the source of the teak they were importing, a tropical hardwood used to make furniture and to build ships.

Several companies call the allegations unfounded, and argued that they cannot be held accountable for problems in a supply chain controlled by the Myanmar government.

Read More:Illegal Myanmar teak importation to EU

EIA PDF:Overdue Diligence: Teak exports from Myanmar in breach of European rules

Further information

  • See the department's illegal logging website for information and resources.
  • Read previous e-updates.
Email the department's illegal logging policy section or the illegal logging compliance section. The department will respond to you within 10 working days.

Call the department during business hours (8.30am to 5.30pm) on 1800 657 313, or +61 2 6272 3933 outside Australia.

E-update 17:
Key topics include: chain of custody due diligence systems recognised under the illegal logging laws, PEFC re-endorsement of Russia’s National Forest Certification Scheme, updated translated factsheets now available

Compliance updates

Systems required by Chain of Custody standards recognised as compliant

Under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation), businesses who import regulated timber products or who process Australian-grown logs are required to have a documented due diligence system. This system sets out the process the business will use to minimise the risk that the timber products they import or process have been illegally logged.

Businesses that have Chain of Custody certification through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) (including the Australian Forestry Standard) are already required to have a due diligence system in place.

The department has determined that a due diligence system that meets the Chain of Custody standards will also satisfy the requirements of the Regulation.

This means that FSC- andPEFC-certified businesses can rely on their existing business practices to comply with the due diligence component of the Regulation. A separate due diligence system is not required. Certified businesses still need to comply with all other sections of the Regulation, including the requirements to perform risk assessments, risk mitigation and record keeping.

Read more:Illegal Logging Compliance Advice Notice 3/2016

PEFC re-endorses Russian National Forest Certification Scheme

Under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012, importers of regulated timber products must assess the risk that the products have been illegally logged. The risk can be determined to be low if the product is PEFC-certified.

In September 2015, the PEFC ceased to recognise certificates issued under the Russian National Forest Certification Scheme, when the Scheme's initial endorsement expired.

The Scheme has since successfully satisfied the PEFC's standards and has been re-endorsed. From 19 February 2016, all certificates issued under the Scheme are recognised as valid and can be used to satisfy due diligence requirements under Australia's illegal logging laws.

Read more:Illegal Logging Compliance Advice Notice 2/2016

New resources

Updated fact sheets in multiple languages

The department has recently updated its series of fact sheets about illegal logging laws, including Information for importers and Information for businesses exporting to Australia.

The department's fact sheets and guidance documents have also been produced in Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysia, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese to assist importers with communicating the illegal logging requirements to their suppliers.

Read more:Guidance materials and translated guidance materials

International news

Brazil: Police dismantle country’s largest illegal logging ring

2 July 2016: Authorities in Brazil have dismantled the country’s largest illegal logging organisation. Arrest warrants were issued after a three-year criminal investigation into the illegal logging ring, which is responsible for the deforestation of around 10 000 hectares of Amazon jungle.

Read more:teleSUR news article

UK: UK takes action against companies importing illegally logged timber from Cameroon

1 July 2016: UK authorities have taken action against 14 companies sourcing timber from Cameroon linked to illegal logging. Official sanctions will apply to the companies if they fail to meet the terms laid out by the authorities charged with enforcing the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

Under the EUTR, companies importing timber into Europe must have measures in place to minimise the risk that the wood they’re buying is sourced from illegal operations, including having paperwork to demonstrate the legality of the timber all the way back to the point of harvest.

Read more:Mongabay news article

E-update 16: June 2016
Key topics include: Extension to 'soft-start' compliance period

Illegal Logging Compliance Advice Notice 1/2016 has now been published and is available on the department's website.

The notice advises that the illegal logging 'soft-start' compliance period has been extended beyond its original expiry date of 30 May 2016.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources initially announced a 18 month 'soft-start' compliance period to run from 30 November 2014 to 30 May 2016. During this period, the department has not issued penalties to businesses found to be not fully compliant with the due diligence requirements.

On 25 February 2016, the Australian Government released the final report of the KPMG led "Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business". This proposed a package of regulatory and non-regulatory reforms to minimise the costs of complying with the Regulation.

In light of this process and the potential for further changes to the Regulation, the department has decided to extend the initial 'soft-start' compliance period until any amendments from the KPMG review have been finalised. This is expected to extend the soft-start period until late 2016 or early 2017.

A further Compliance Advice Notice will be released to advise when the 'soft-start' compliance period will end.

E-update 15: May 2016
Key topics include: Release of new Papua New Guinea Country Specific Guideline; Indonesia closer to issuing FLEGT licences; Australian DNA research used to convict US timber thieves; West African nations to restrict rosewood trade

Release of new Papua New Guinea Country Specific Guideline

The department has recently published the Papua New Guinea Country Specific Guideline and its associated Quick Reference Guide on its website. The guideline is intended to assist importers to understand Papua New Guinea's regulatory frameworks and verify the timber products they are importing have been legally sourced. Complying with the Country Specific Guideline is one way of satisfying Australia's due diligence requirements.

This document adds to the existing Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia (Peninsular, Sabah, Sarawak), New Zealand and Solomon Islands guidelines.

The Department is working with other key trading partners to develop new Country Specific Guidelines. These will be published on the department's illegal logging webpages once finalised.

Indonesia on course to issue the first FLEGT licences

On 21 April 2016, the Presidents of Indonesia, the European Commission and the European Council confirmed that Indonesia has met the final major requirement of its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU and is on course to become the world's first country to issue FLEGT licences.

FLEGT licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU operators from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. They are also formally recognised as meeting Australia's own due diligence requirements.

The EU can now proceed to complete the necessary procedures to make Indonesia's FLEGT licensing scheme fully operational. Once these procedures are complete, the Indonesia-EU Joint Implementation Committee will recommend a date for FLEGT licensing to formally start.

Genetic profiling of trees used to convict US timber thieves

University of Adelaide forest DNA forensicsresearch has helped convict timber thieves in a landmark case in the United States.

Four defendants prosecuted for stealing Bigleaf maple wood from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwest Washington State have pleaded guilty, in a case that marks the first time the US government has prosecuted for illegal interstate trade of wood products under the Lacey Act.

DNA evidence developed by a consortium of experts led by the University of Adelaide and Double Helix Tracking was an important element of the government's case against the timber thieves.

The theft of Bigleaf maple has been a persistent problem as the distortions in maple wood grain can create patterns prized by woodworkers and musical instrument manufacturers. When milled, a single log of maple can be worth more than $100,000.

West African countries take action to curb illegal rosewood logging and associated trade

The Environmental Investigation Agency has reported that 11 West African countries have agreed to take action to curb illegal logging of rosewood in the region. Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) member countries Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo met in Guinea-Bissau in late March 2016 and produced a series of recommendations to address what has become a critical issue throughout the region.

The action is response to the large increase in West African rosewood being exported illicitly as a result of timber traders taking advantage of weak governance and enforcement to meet rising international consumer demand.

Some of the actions to be undertaken by the ECOWAS members include the improvement of national forest policies and legislation, measures to improve cross border cooperation and the potential listing of the species Pterocarpus erinaceus in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

E-update 14: February 2016
Key topics include: release of the small business review and government response; ATIF Legality Compliance Toolkit Addendum; European Timber Trade Federation tropical timber website launch

Release of the small business review and government response

The Australian Government has now released the final report of the KPMG led 'Independent review of the impacts of the illegal logging regulations on small business' and its associated response.

The review assessed whether the existing due diligence requirements strike an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.

In its response, the government provided in-principle support for the review's five recommendations and committed itself to progressing a package of regulatory and non-regulatory reforms. This will include the consideration of the regulatory reforms through a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) process. The RIS will be progressed by the Government in the first half of 2016.

Further information on the independent review, its key outcomes and the government's response can be found on the department's website.

ATIF Legality Compliance Toolkit Addendum

The Australian Timber Importers Federation (ATIF) has recently released an addendum to its Legality Compliance Toolkit. The toolkit, which was originally published in 2014, seeks to assist importers comply with the requirements of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.

The addendum was produced in response to user feedback and is intended to clarify a number of matters in relation to compliance with the legislation and the related due diligence requirements.

The toolkit and addendum, and ATIF's contact details can be found of the department's website.

European Timber Trade Federation launches tropical timber website

The European Timber Trade Federation has recently launched a new online tool ‘Gateway to international Timber Trade’ to assist international timber traders find information on the forest industry, legal timber trade, country requirements and export trends in timber producing countries.

There are currently six country profiles available on the Gateway, including Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It is anticipated that a total of 23 country profiles will be published by mid-2016.

Further information on the gateway can be found at www.timbertradeportal.com.

Recent news reports on international illegal logging activity

Lumber Liquidators sentenced for illegal importation of hardwood under US Lacey Act

On 1 February 2016, US timber retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced in a US federal court to penalties exceeding USD $13 million for the importation of illegally logged hardwood flooring manufactured in China from timber of eastern Russian origin.

The US Department of Justice successfully brought forward the prosecution, which resulted in penalties of USD $7.8 million in criminal fines, USD $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and USD $1.23 million in community service payments, in addition to USD $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture. Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to a five-year term of organisational probation and mandatory implementation of a government-approved environmental compliance plan and independent audits.

The penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.

The penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.

The US Department of Justice released a statement on the sentencing.

E-update 13: December 2015
Key topics include: New Assistant Minister for Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; new Indonesian timber import regulations; recent news on international illegal logging activity

New Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

In September 2015, Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston was announced as the new Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. As part of her new portfolio, Assistant Minister Ruston has assumed responsibility for forestry matters and the Australian Government's illegal logging laws. Assistant Minister Ruston represents South Australia in the Senate.

Assistant Minister's biography can be viewed on the Parliament of Australia website: Senator Ruston.

New Indonesian timber import regulations

The department has recently become aware of new Indonesian Government regulations that are expected to come into force on 1 January 2016. These regulations will require businesses importing certain regulated timber products into Indonesia to register with the Indonesian Minister of Trade and to undertake 'due diligence' checks on the legality of their timber imports.

The regulations cover 358 tariff codes under chapters 44 (wood products), 47 (wood pulp), 48 (paper products) and 94 (furniture) of the Harmonised Tariff Code System.

As part of this process, Indonesian importers may start requesting Australian businesses to provide certain documentation demonstrating the legality and sustainability of their products.

The department has recently written to businesses who have exported timber products to Indonesia over the last year to explain the situation and options for maintaining access to the Indonesian market.

If you have any questions about the new regulations or how they might affect your business, please send an email to the department's illegal logging inbox. This email box will be monitored over the Christmas period.

Recent news reports on international illegal logging activity

On 6 December 2015, the Houston Chronicle reported that 71 shipping containers filled with over 1700 tonnes of suspected illegally logged Peruvian Amazon rainforest timber has been retained at the Port of Houston since September.

US Customs officials have excluded the timber, meaning it cannot be legally allowed into the United States, after officials were unable to determine whether the wood had been brought into port legally under the Lacey Act.

It is alleged that export permits for the shipments, which require each log to be registered and identified to a harvest location by GPS coordinates prior to issuance, may have been fraudulently obtained. The shipments involve at least four US-based businesses.

The article can be viewed on the Chatham House Illegal logging Portal website: www.illegal-logging.info

E-update 12: October 2015
Key topics include: Illegal logging presentations available on website; recent compliance advice notices; news on international illegal logging activity

Illegal logging session presentation now available on our website

Throughout September, the department delivered a series of presentations on the illegal logging laws in key cities around Australia. These presentations were part of the annual Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Biosecurity Sessions. The illegal logging session provided an overview of the first year of operation of the due diligence requirements and outcomes of the first six months of compliance assessments, including common areas of non-compliance and potential solutions.

A copy of the department's presentation is now available on our website: Illegal Logging Information and Events.

Recent news reports on international illegal logging activity

Two high profile international illegal logging news stories have recently been published by mainstream media outlets. These reports highlight the potential exposure of well-established businesses to the illegal logging trade. Summaries of the articles are provided below for your information.

Lumber Liquidators pleads guilty to environmental crimes

On 22 October 2015, CNBC reported that USA based Lumber Liquidators Inc.(reportedly the largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States) pleaded guilty to environmental crimes related to illegal importation of hardwood flooring.

According to CNBC, the conviction says that Lumber Liquidators flooring was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in eastern Russia.

In total, Lumber Liquidators agreed to pay $USD13.13 million — including a USD$7.8 million criminal fine and more than USD$1.23 million in community service payments. It is also on a five-year probationary period while it implements a Lacey Act Compliance Plan.

Major Austrian timber firm accused of illegal logging in Romania

On 21 October 2015, The Guardian reported that a major Austrian timber company been accused of illegal logging in Romania. A two-year investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency US (EIA), an NGO, says it recorded officials from Holzindustrie Schweighofer offering to buy illegal timber from investigators posing as buyers and filmed unmarked logs dumped at the company’s depots in apparent violation of Romanian law.

The full report on EIA's investigationis available at their website: Stealing the Last Forest.

Recent Compliance Advice Notices

The department recently published two Compliance Advice Notices. A quick summary of these notices are included below.

2/2015: Expired Endorsement of PEFC Russian National Forest Certification Scheme

PEFC International has advised that all certificates issued under Russia’s National Forest Certification Scheme have ceased to be recognised by PEFC from 3 September 2015.

Until Russia regains endorsement of their Scheme, any claim that timber from Russia is PEFC certified cannot be used to demonstrate compliance with Australia’s illegal logging legislation.

The full Compliance Advice Notice is available at: Compliance Advice Notice 2/2015

3/2015: Regulated Timber Products Made From Recycled Material

Under the illegal logging laws, 100 per cent recycled products are exempt. This department recognises that in many cases, products are not 100 per cent recycled due to labelling or other minor components that are not from recycled fibre.

In keeping with the intent of this exemption, the department will recognise products with at least 95 per cent recycled content as meeting the exemption. No due diligence is required for imported regulated timber products where the non-recycled (virgin fibre) content is less than 5 per cent.

The full Compliance Advice Notice is available at: Compliance Advice Notice 3/2015.

A definition of what is considered a recycled product can be found in the fact sheet: What timber products are regulated?

E-update 11: August 2015
Key topics include: Biosecurity information sessions – change of Sydney venue; registrations still open; scheduled locations for sessions

Change of venue for next week's illegal logging sessions in Sydney

Due to construction activities at the Mercure Sydney International Airport Hotel, the Biosecurity Information sessions scheduled for 2 September 2015 have now been moved to:

Novotel Brighton Beach

The Grand Parade,
Brighton-Le-Sands NSW 2216

Those who have already registered for the Sydney event will be contacted directly via email to confirm the change of venue. Individual Session times will not change and onsite parking is available at a discounted rate.

The Illegal Logging session will run from 12.30 to 1.30pm (with sign in open from 12.15pm).

IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO REGISTER...

Throughout September 2015, officers from the Department of Agriculture's Targeting and Enforcement and Forestry branches will be visiting key capital cities to hold free information sessions on Australia's illegal logging laws. The sessions will be held as part of the Department's Biosecurity Information Sessions.

The illegal logging sessions will be valuable to customs brokers and any businesses who import wood, paper or pulp products into Australia.

The sessions will provide an overview of the first year of operation of the illegal logging due diligence requirements, with a focus on key developments, emerging issues and future approaches. They will also provide a review of the first six months of compliance assessments, including common areas of non-compliance and potential solutions.

Each session will be run from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm on the dates set out below. Time will be allowed at the end of each session for follow up questions.

The illegal logging sessions have been accredited three Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for Customs Brokers.

Biosecurity information sessions:

SydneyWednesday 2 SeptemberNovotel Brighton Beach
AdelaideTuesday 8 SeptemberThe Lakes Resort Hotel
PerthThursday 10 SeptemberCrown Perth Convention Centre
MelbourneTuesday 15 SeptemberMantra Tullamarine Hotel
BrisbaneThursday 17 SeptemberNovotel Brisbane Airport Hotel

There is no cost for these sessions but registration is required.

For more information about all of the sessions being held visit: Biosecurity information sessions.

Although these sessions are focussed on customs brokers and importers, the department is willing to work with Australian timber processors to provide information specific for your industry and we welcome your feedback on any opportunities for us to do so.

E-update 10: August 2015
Key topics include: Illegal logging laws sessions being held in September; New compliance advice notices

Illegal logging laws sessions being held in September

Throughout September 2015, officers from the Department of Agriculture's Targeting and Enforcement and Forestry branches will be visiting key capital cities to hold free information sessions on Australia's illegal logging laws. The sessions will be held as part of the Department's Biosecurity information sessions

The illegal logging sessions will be valuable to customs brokers and any businesses who import wood, paper or pulp products into Australia.

The sessions will provide an overview of the first year of operation of the illegal logging due diligence requirements, with a focus on key developments, emerging issues and future approaches. They will also provide a review of the first six months of compliance assessments, including common areas of non-compliance and potential solutions.

Each session will be run from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm on the dates set out below. Time will be allowed at the end of each session for follow up questions.

The illegal logging sessions have been accredited three Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for Customs Brokers.

Biosecurity information sessions:

SydneyWednesday 2 SeptemberMercure Sydney Airport Hotel
AdelaideTuesday 8 SeptemberThe Lakes Resort Hotel
PerthThursday 10 SeptemberCrown Perth Convention Centre
MelbourneTuesday 15 SeptemberMantra Tullamarine Hotel
BrisbaneThursday 17 SeptemberNovotel Brisbane Airport Hotel

There is no cost for these sessions but registration is required.

For more information about all of the sessions being held visit: Biosecurity information sessions.

Although these sessions are focussed on customs brokers and importers, the department is willing to work with Australian timber processors to provide information specific for your industry and we welcome your feedback on any opportunities for us to do so.

New compliance advice notices

The Department of Agriculture is committed to helping regulated businesses comply with their illegal logging due diligence obligations. As part of this process, we will soon begin publishing Compliance Advice Notices.

These notices will provide advice on specific compliance issues and guidance on what is acceptable practice when carrying out your due diligence process. They will allow you to better understand the steps required to comply with the due diligence requirements.

The department is currently preparing its first Compliance Advice Notice. Once published, it will be emailed out to all subscribers and also made available on the Illegal logging website.

New shortened web links

If you need to send web links with the department's information to your association's members or clients, you can now access our website using shortened links:

Further information

You can access additional information by:

E-update 9: July 2015
Key topics include: new Illegal logging compliance web page; what is a ‘due diligence system’?; do I need to conduct due diligence on the packaging material and pallets of my consignment?

Departmental representatives attending Furnitex in Melbourne

Departmental representatives have been manning an information booth at the upcoming Furniture Industry Furnitex Connect Conference on 9 and 10 July 2015. We hope many of you had the opportunity to come and chat to our staff about the new laws and your individual circumstances.

New illegal logging compliance web page

We have recently published a new web page on the department's website that outlines how we are managing compliance with the illegal logging laws.

On this page you will find information about the compliance assessment process as well as the templates and guides businesses can use in responding to an assessment request. If you are in the process of building your due diligence system or just interested in what is involved in the assessment process, you can access this new information at: Illegal Logging Compliance.

New Illegal logging e-update web page

We now have a web page dedicated to E-Updates on the department's website. This allows people to easily subscribe to the updates and also provides an archive of previous updates. If you have recently subscribed or are just interested in taking another look at previous information, it is available at: Illegal logging laws e-updates.

Small business impacts review

The 'Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business' undertaken by KPMG is currently being considered by the Australian Government. The department will publish the KPMG report and the Government response, as soon as they are made available on our website.

The review assessed whether the regulation strikes an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.

Further information will be made available through future E-Updates and on department's website when available.

Some recent questions answered

The department continues to respond to inquiries about the illegal logging legislation through our telephone (1800 657 313) and email hotline. Questions that have recently been raised include:

What is a 'due diligence system'?

An important part of conducting your due diligence is documenting your 'due diligence system'. This can be as simple as a document that describes your overall approach, including your practices and procedures for assessing and managing the risk that your products have been illegally logged. It should include how you gather the necessary information, perform a risk assessment and mitigate any risk (if necessary) and general record keeping protocols.

While we are finding that many people have good systems in place, it is important to remember your due diligence systems also needs to include:

  • your business or company name and ABN or ACN
  • your business street and postal address
  • your principal business activity, and
  • the name, position and contact details of the person responsible for maintaining your due diligence system.

If you would like any further information about documenting your due diligence system, please contact the department on 1800 657 313 or email us at Illegal Logging.

Need a template for your due diligence system?

The Timber Development Association has developed templates that you can use and modify as one way of developing your due diligence system. It includes policy documents and manuals, request templates to send to suppliers, information on conducting the risk assessment and further advice on gathering information to support a due diligence process. These materials are available for free from Timber Due Diligence.

Do I need to conduct due diligence on the packaging material and pallets of my consignment?

No. Any packaging material, including pallets and wood that is supporting, protecting or carrying the product being imported is not subject to the due diligence requirements.

Regulated timber products are defined by their tariff code and therefore the packaging is not regulated unless it is the product being imported (e.g. a shipment of paper bags).

If you are looking to import products you think may be regulated, general information about regulated products can be found in the fact sheet: Due diligence – What timber products are regulated?.

E-update 8: April 2015
Key topics include: compliance assessments have commenced, who is considered the importer and useful illegal logging resources

Compliance assessments have now commenced

The department has now begun contacting selected businesses to request information about their due diligence systems. This process, which began in March, represents an initial 'dry run' of the department's due diligence compliance arrangements. It will help the department and the selected businesses to better understand 'good' industry practice and any issues arising from the due diligence process.

The department will be contacting a variety of businesses dealing with a range of regulated timber products. Contacted businesses will receive a formal 'request for information' package. This will ask the business to provide information about their due diligence system and how it was applied to a particular product they have imported or processed. Once this information is provided, the department will assess the business' due diligence system and provide feedback on how well they are complying with the due diligence requirements.

It is important to note that during the first 18 months of the due diligence requirements' operation (November 2014 to May 2016), the department will not be penalising businesses who are found to have under-developed due diligence systems. Instead, the department will highlight any short-comings and potentially revisit that business at a later date to ensure they have improved their system. As the department builds an understanding of common issues and solutions, it will also publish further information to share with industry.

The department has some capacity to undertake voluntary assessments. If you are interested in an early assessment of your due diligence system, please contact the department. You can also direct any questions about the compliance assessment process to this address, or by phoning the department on 1800 657 313.

Small business impacts review

On 29 March 2015, KPMG delivered its final report on the 'Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business' to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck.

The review assessed whether the regulation strikes an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market. The government is currently considering the report and will release it and the government's response in due course.

Additional information on the review can be found at: Small business impacts review.

Some recent questions answered

The department continues to respond to inquiries about the illegal logging legislation through our telephone (1800 657 313) and email hotline. Questions that have recently been raised include:

Who is considered the importer when conducting due diligence?

For the purposes of the illegal logging laws, the owner of the goods at the time they are imported into Australia (the importer) is responsible for conducting due diligence. The owner can be determined by referring to the declaration paperwork, specifically the entity entered in Section A - 'Owner Details' on Full Import Declaration forms. When the form is lodged electronically, it is the entity entered in the equivalent field.

Please note that the Regulation applies to all persons, foreign or Australian, who import regulated timber products into Australia.

When should I answer 'no' to the due diligence community protection question?

If you are in a situation where you have not completed your due diligence on a consignment before it arrives in Australia, then you (or your customs broker/freight forwarder on your behalf) must answer 'no' to the community protection question (unless the consignment is exempt).

It is your responsibility to inform your broker how to answer the question. You need to answer the question honestly. Providing a false or misleading declaration is a criminal offence.

Regardless of the response provided for the community protection question, the goods will not be held at the border for this purpose.

For further information about answering the question, including exemptions, please see our fact sheet: Due diligence - Answering the illegal logging community protection question.

Want to know more about illegal logging?

The due diligence process allows you the flexibility to use a range of information to undertake your due diligence. Below are two examples of resources that can be used to develop your understanding of illegal logging at a global level and enhance your ability to undertake due diligence.

The Illegal Logging Portal

The Illegal logging portal, hosted and maintained by Chatham House, contains useful information on illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber. It provides an overview of the key issues and developments with illegal logging, recent media articles and reports. It also includes a searchable database of documents and news items from around the world.

The Environmental Crime Crisis

In 2014 the United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol produced a report for the United Nations Environment Assembly. This report provides some of the latest data, analysis, and insights into the illegal trade in wildlife and forest resources. The full report can be downloaded at: The Environmental Crime Crisis.

E-Update 7: March 2015
Key topics include: release of the Malaysia Country Specific Guideline and the ATIF Compliance Toolkit

New Malaysia Country Specific Guideline

The department has recently published the Malaysia country specific guideline and the associated Quick reference guide on our website. The guideline will help importers to better understand the logging laws in place in the three Malaysian regions and allow businesses to simplify their due diligence arrangements.

This document adds to the existing Indonesia, New Zealand, Italy, Canada, Solomon Islands and Finland guidelines.
The department is working with other key trading partners to publish further Country Specific Guidelines as soon as possible.

Small business impacts review

The 'Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business' is now nearing completion. The consultant, KPMG, are due to report back to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck, by the end of the month.

The review is assessing whether the due diligence requirements in the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 strike an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.

Additional information on the review can be found at: Small business impacts review.

New ATIF Legality Compliance Toolkit

The Australian Timber Importers Federation (ATIF), with financial support from the department, have produced a toolkit written in practical language that is intended to assist timber product importers understand and comply with the legislation.

The department now has a copy of the toolkit booklet on our further information and resources webpage listed under 'Industry generated guidance materials'.

If you are interested in the full resources toolkit, which includes draft letters, templates and other materials, or you would to enquire about an ATIF training session, please contact John Halkett on 0417 421 187 or john.halkett@bigpond.com.

The department's new website

The department has refreshed its website which should make it easier for you to find the information you need to interact with the department online. The website has also been re-designed to enable you to have a seamless experience across your desktop, tablet and smartphone.

All the previous illegal logging information is still available. However, if you have existing internet 'bookmarks' to fact sheets or send webpage links in your emails, you may need to check that they are still working.

There is also a new general telephone number (1800 900 090) that can be used to contact the department. However, for illegal logging matters, you should continue to use the dedicated illegal logging hotline (1800 657 313) which comes directly to our illegal logging officers.

E-Update 6: February 2015
Key topics include: the use of ‘timber’ in the Community Protection question and the use of supplier statements

Small business impacts review

Independent review of the illegal logging regulations

In our last update, we highlighted the announcement of the 'Independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business'. The review is assessing whether the regulation strikes an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.

The Government has recently engaged the consultancy firm, KPMG, to conduct the review. KPMG will host a series of consultations with affected businesses and other key stakeholders throughout February and March 2015. This will include structured interviews with businesses and a series of stakeholder workshops in key Australian cities. KPMG are scheduled to report back to the government by the end of March 2015.

If you would like to contribute to the review on small business, please contact KPMG directly.

It is important to note that the review does not affect the due diligence requirements that came into effect on 30 November 2014. Importers and processors still need to comply with the illegal logging laws.

Additional information on the review can be found at Small business impacts review.

Some recent questions answered

The department continues to respond to enquiries about the illegal logging legislation through our telephone (1800 657 313) and email hotline. Questions that have been raised in the last couple of weeks include:

Use of the term 'timber' in the Community Protection Question

Some Customs brokers have recently asked about the reference to 'timber' in the Community Protection Question. The current question (Lodgement question 510) reads:

“Has the importer complied with the due diligence requirements of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and associated regulations? (if product is exempt or does not contain timber, answer yes)”

The department can confirm the term 'timber' in this context is meant to encompass all regulated wood and wood-fibre products (such as paper products).

Additional information about answering the community protection question is available at answering the illegal logging community protection question.

My supplier has provided me with a written statement that the product is legal. Is this sufficient?

A supplier statement can help to address specific risks you may identify through undertaking due diligence. However, by itself this will generally provide insufficient evidence to allow you to undertake a risk assessment and satisfy your due diligence requirements. You must follow the due diligence steps which includes gathering information relating to your product and using that (along with other documents such as the written statement) to assess the risk of the product containing illegally logged timber.

Information about the due diligence process and the steps you must follow can be found at: Due diligence - Guidance for importers. Providing you follow these steps, you can proceed with confidence.

Timber Development Association training seminars

The Timber Development Association will be conducting further due diligence training seminars for importers of timber, paper and wood furniture in February 2015.

The dates for the seminars are:

Melbourne: Tuesday 17 February 2015
Sydney: Thursday 19 February 2015
Brisbane: Tuesday 24 February 2015

Further information is available at Timber Due Diligence.

E-Update 5: December 2015
Key topics include: commencement of the small business impacts review, information about what timber products are regulated, and the use of FSC certificates in conducting due diligence

Small business impacts review

On 1 December 2014, the government announced an independent review of the impact of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 on small business. The review will assess whether the regulation achieves an appropriate balance between the cost of compliance for small businesses and reducing the risk of illegally logged timber entering the Australian market.

It is important to note that the review does not affect the due diligence requirements that came into effect on 30 November 2014. Importers and processors still need to comply with the illegal logging laws.

Additional information on the review can be found at: Small business impacts review.

Some recent questions answered

The department continues to respond to enquiries about the illegal logging legislation through our telephone (1800 657 313) and email hotline. Questions that have been raised in the last couple of weeks include:

Are all imported products made from timber, wood and wood fibre regulated?

No. Regulated timber products are identified using customs tariff codes. The regulated products fit within Chapters 44, 47, 48 and 94 of the tariff codes and relate to specific wood products, pulp, paper and furniture products. A full list of the regulated timber products are listed in Schedule 1 of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012. General information on which products are regulated and which are exempt from the due diligence requirement can also be found in the fact sheet: 'Due diligence - What timber products are regulated?'.

Are bamboo products regulated?

No. Bamboo is considered to be a grass for the purposes of the illegal logging legislation. As a result it sits outside the scope of the regulation and importers do not need to carry out due diligence on bamboo products. Where a product does not contain timber, as is the case with bamboo, but falls under one of the regulated tariff codes, customs brokers should answer 'yes' to the community protection question in the full import declaration.

Is the receipt of a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate enough to comply with the regulation?

The use of a Timber Legality Framework (such as FSC certification) allows importers and processors to complete the optional simplified due diligence process. However, the receipt of a certificate does not exempt importers and processors from undertaking the due diligence process altogether. Detailed information about conducting due diligence when using frameworks such as FSC can be found in the fact sheet: Use of timber legality frameworks.

Timber Development Association training seminars

The Timber Development Association will be conducting further due diligence industry training seminars in February 2015.
The dates for the seminars are:

Melbourne: Tuesday 17 February 2015
Sydney: Thursday 19 February 2015
Brisbane: Tuesday 24 February 2015

Further information is available at Timber Due Diligence.

Department of Agriculture Christmas closure

The department will be closed for business between Thursday, 25 December 2014 and Thursday, 1 January 2015. All phone and email messages received during the closure will be responded to in the week starting Monday, 5 January 2014.

The department wishes all of our subscribers a safe and happy holiday period.

E-Update 4: November 2015
Key topics include: answering the community protection question, the 18 month compliance transition period and recent illegal logging webinars

The new due diligence requirements commence on Sunday

The new due diligence requirements will commence this Sunday, 30 November 2014. From this date, processors of domestically grown raw logs and importers of regulated timber products will need to manage the risk that the timber products they are dealing with have been illegally logged. The new requirements are a key element in the government's efforts to combat the devastating trade in illegally logged timber.

The department's website contains a range of information to help importers and processors understand and comply with the new requirements.

18 month transition period

The department recognises that it will take time for some businesses to adjust to the new due diligence requirements. For the first 18 months after 30 November 2014, the department's focus will be on helping affected businesses to comply with the requirements. During this period, we will not be seeking to 'catch out' people who are trying to do the right thing.

Further information on the department's compliance approach during this period can be found in the department's Position paper.

New guidance material - Answering the illegal logging community protection question

From 30 November 2014, importers of regulated timber products will need to make a declaration to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service about their compliance with the due diligence requirements. This declaration is in the form of a new community protection question answered as part of the import declaration process. The department has developed a new fact sheet providing guidance on answering the question which can be found at: Answering the illegal logging community protection question.

Addition of Chain of Custody Schemes to the approved timber legality frameworks

In mid November 2014, the illegal logging regulations were amended to add the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC) chain of custody schemes to the timber legality frameworks recognised under the illegal logging laws. This adds to the existing schemes recognised under the regulations (i.e. the FSC and PEFC forest management certification schemes and the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade licensing scheme), and will provide businesses with a wide range of schemes to satisfy their due diligence obligations.

Recording of recent illegal logging webinar presentations

In collaboration with Forest and Wood Products Association (FWPA), the department recently delivered a series of webinars outlining the Australian Government's illegal logging laws. These sessions focused on what is expected of businesses under the new due diligence requirements, potential tools for satisfying these requirements and where businesses can go for further information. Two of these sessions were recorded (one for importers and processors and another for customs brokers) and are now available on the FWPA website.

New NSW State Specific Guideline

The department has recently published the New South Wales State Specific Guideline. This guideline will help Australian processors better understand the legal frameworks in place in New South Wales and simplify their due diligence requirements.

There are now five State Specific Guidelines and six Country Specific guidelines, allowing importers and processors to use the optional process under Step 2 of the due diligence requirements.
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