UPDATES - Reforms to Illegal Logging Laws and Impact on FSC Certificate Holders
In October 2017, the government announced several reforms to the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012. These were intended to streamline and clarify the Regulation’s due diligence requirements. The key reform was the establishment of a new 'deemed to comply' arrangement for products certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for Endorsement Certification (PEFC) schemes.
On 8 February 2018, the ‘deemed to comply’ arrangement was debated in the Australian Senate and the associated amendments were disallowed. This means the new streamlined ‘deemed to comply’ arrangement for FSC and PEFC products will no longer be implemented. Parties dealing with FSC and PEFC products will still need to carry out the full due diligence process described in the Regulation.
Further information about the due diligence requirements is available at Illegal Logging – Guidance for Importers and Illegal Logging – Guidance for Processors.
FSC Certificate Holders, please read the document attached below for information on how the laws will impact your organisation.
Previous Illegal Logging Communications Updates
29th August 2017
One of FSC’s primary principles of responsible forest management is to ensure that instances of illegally harvested timber are prevented. All countries with forests have rules to manage ownership and harvest rights, but the level of enforcement of these rules varies across the globe. For this reason, several governments have, in the last decade, adopted ‘legislation for timber legality’ laws that ban the trading of timber that is harvested illegally anywhere on the planet. To prevent purchase and sales of timber products connected to illegal harvesting, these governments require companies to apply ‘due diligence’.
FSCA worked closely with the Australian Forest Products Association and Australian Forestry Standard to inform the Australian Government of the importance of certification schemes in combating illegal logging. Specifically, FSCA encouraged that illegal logging legislation reflects how third party certification schemes can be used as a tool by the government to fulfil the due diligence requirements for import products. In this way, direct certified suppliers will satisfy the ‘deemed to comply’ provisions of the legislation.
In response to the legislation, KPMG led an independent review of the impact of the illegal logging regulations on small business and developed a report to the government with their recommendations. One of the key recommendations was that the department should develop clearer and more easily understood guidance materials on the illegal logging laws. Since the report was released, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has published a refreshed set of illegal logging web pages providing an understanding of the laws, as well as other new due diligence guidance materials.
These new materials are available on the department’s website here. However, those suppliers already FSC accredited can rest assured that the relevant due diligence requirements have been met. As such, FSC certification ensures that the organisation is compliant with the relevant laws.
16th May 2017: Illegal Logging Legislation – Letter to the Australian Government
How Third Party Certification can be ‘Deemed to Comply’
FSC Australia submitted a joint letter with the Australian Forest Products Association and Australian Forestry Standard to the Australian Government regarding Illegal Logging Legislation.
Together the two certification schemes and the national industry body united to make a joint submission to encourage the Government to continue to make progress on tackling the problem of illegally logged timber entering the Australian Market.
The FSC system monitors the source of origin of material with the Forest Management and Controlled Wood standards and the movement of forest products through the supply chain with the Chain of Custody standard.
Under the FSC system, direct certified suppliers are obliged to go back through the supply chain until they have obtained the original forest management certificate indicating both country/concession of harvest or species and provide this information to the importer.
The letter highlights how third party certification can be a tool adopted by the government to fulfil the due diligence requirements for import products. Download the full letter below.
5th April 2017: FSC Australia meet with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to discuss Due Diligence
Following the submission late last year by FSC to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR), FSC Australia was invited to present to the Department further information about how the FSC system works. FSC Australia CEO Bill Royce, meet with officials and provided assistance in their assessment of the integrity of the FSC system with a focus for the ‘deemed to comply’ option for due diligence.
It was a fantastic opportunity to present how our system works through all three certifications (FM, CW, CoC) and each of our types of permitted labels; on the role of the CBs in ongoing engagement with CHs; and the role of ASI in quality controlling the CB network.
Highlighted was one of the principal benefits for importers relying on FSC certification is that our system (from foresters to manufacturers, and through the third-party audits conducted by certification bodies licensed by ASI) comprehensively assesses and mitigates risk.
We actively support Australia’s legislation combating illegal logging and specifically endorse the ‘modified approach’ for due diligence for timber legality frameworks.
FSC Australia would look forward to working together with DWAR in educating and providing guidance to importers.
The Australian Forest Products Association is preparing a submission to be sent to the Minister co-signed by prominent forest certification schemes and NGOs operating in Australia on the matter.
Attached below for stakeholders reference, is the full letter of advice FSC Australia has provided to DAWR prepared with the assistance of global Chief Advocacy Officer, John Hontelez.
Revised April 2015: FSC and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012
On 30 November 2012, the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 entered into force. It was the result of five years of considerable debate involving both the timber industry (within Australia as well as in the main timber-providing countries) and NGOs.
The official summary of the Act:
- It prohibits the importation of illegally logged timber and the processing of illegally logged raw logs.
- It also requires importers of regulated timber products and processors of raw logs to conduct due diligence in order to reduce the risk that illegally logged timber is imported or processed.
- Importers of regulated timber products must provide declarations, at the time of import, to the Customs Minister about the due diligence that they have undertaken.
- It provides for inspectors to exercise monitoring, investigation and enforcement powers for the purposes of this Act.
The Australian Government considers that “these measures are an essential first step towards a longer-term goal of Australia sourcing timber products from sustainably managed forests, wherever they are in the world.”
One motive for the Act from the side of the Government is that, without such legislation, effective legality policies in the United States (US) and European Union (EU) may lead to Australia becoming an alternative target for illegal timber traders, meaning that Australia’s moral responsibility for the negative impacts of illegal harvesting would increase.
For more information Download the full statement below.
Thursday 5th October: Illegal Logging Legislation Update
Tthe Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston announced the government had taken steps to cut red tape whilst ensuring illegally logged timber does not enter the Australian market.
Specifically, the government is establishing a new deemed to comply arrangement for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.
In practice, the amendments will streamline and simplify arrangements for those businesses and individuals importing or processing timber products certified under the FSC.
Read more about the changes in our newsroom here.