If you do not understand your obligations you could be subject to penalties from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
From 1st January 2018, businesses and individuals may face penalties for breaches of the Regulation’s due diligence requirements. Failing to comply with due diligence requirements may attract a penalty of up to 300 penalty units ($63,000). Only regulated goods identified by their tariff codes will be affected. Importers should be aware that the definition of ‘timber’ for illegal logging laws is considered any wood fibre derived from trees.
The trade in illegally logged timber also has the potential to disadvantage legitimate Australian businesses and undercuts market prices. It’s been estimated that each year up to 10% of timber and wood-based product imports into Australia come from sources with high risk of being illegally logged.
That’s why the Australian Government has put laws in place to help fight illegal logging (both here and overseas) to support trade in timber and wood-based products that have been legally harvested.
What the laws mean to you
The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and its associated regulation affects importers of timber furniture and other products in two different ways:
It is a criminal offence to import illegally logged products into Australia.
Anyone importing certain ‘regulated timber products’ into Australia must manage the risk that the timber or wood fibre in these products has been illegally logged. This process is known as undertaking due diligence.
What due diligence means
Due diligence involves assessing the risk that the product comes from illegally logged timber before importing the product into Australia.
To do this, the importer must gather information about the regulated products being imported (such as country of harvest, species and any other evidence that product has been legally harvested).
Using this information the importer, must then assess the risk that the timber in these products has been illegally logged – using one of three options most relevant to their circumstances. If the conclusion from the risk assessment is higher than low, the importer must mitigate the risk if they still wish to import the product. Importers need to have a documented system that outlines the due diligence process and to keep a written record of the steps taken.