Background to the Illegal Logging Legislation
The following briefly summarises aspects of Australia’s illegal logging legislation.
1.1 Illegal logging
Illegal logging is the equivalent of stealing logs. It is felling trees and extracting logs from a forest or plantation without the requisite approvals under the relevant laws of the country in which the forest or plantation in question is located. Laws that relate to the mandatory approvals required for the harvesting of logs must be adhered to. Violation of the laws that explicitly prohibit the felling of trees from particular areas of forest, such as national parks and nature reserves, is illegal. The relevant laws relate to tree felling, log removal and transport, payment of royalties and charges, and other matters, for defined and identifiable forest or plantations.
1.2 Illegal logging legislation
The Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (the Act) legislation came into effect in November 2012. The Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (the Regulation), which sets out the operational details, took effect from 30 November 2014.
It should be noted the the Act and Regulation may change from time to time.
The current versions are located online here:
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/F2012L02404 for the Regulation and
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2012A00166 for the Act.
The Regulation is the only accepted version of the regulated codes and importers should keep up to date what is on the list.
The Department of Agriculture publishes updates from time to time. You should keep up to date with any changes.
The purpose of the legislation is to reduce the risk of products containing timber from illegal logging entering the Australian market. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has the responsibility for administration of the Illegal Logging legislation. This role includes assessment of compliance of affected businesses.
It is an offence under the legislation to import timber and products containing illegally logged timber into Australia, or to process domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally logged. It is also an offence to not carry out and document Due Diligence on regulated timber product imports and the processing of domestically grown raw logs.
The Regulation sets out the requirements for importing regulated timber products and the processing of domestically grown raw logs. These requirements primarily relate to the Due Diligence process to be undertaken. Put simply, Due Diligence is doing your homework to ensure that there is a low risk that the timber products you are importing, or processing has come from illegal sources. The Regulation outlines the necessary framework for carrying out the Due Diligence process.
There are very limited exemptions to the Regulation and importers and manufacturers need to be aware that the Regulation includes a broad range of wood-derived materials, including particleboard, MDF and plywood. All of which are materials often included in furniture, furnishing, cabinetry, components and other fitted furniture products.
1.3 Responsibility for legality assurance with importer or processor
All entities (including individuals) who import regulated timber products are required to undertake due diligence unless the item is exempt.
Processors of domestically grown raw logs are also required to undertake due diligence.
Those further along the supply chain – merchants, manufacturers, builders, wholesalers, distributors or retailers – are not directly regulated by the laws.
If you are unsure whether you or your business are affected by the regulation you should seek further.
1.4 Regulated Timber products – Applies to importers of Regulated Timber Products
It should be noted that the Act applies to all timber and timber containing products making it illegal to import products containing illegally logged timber. The distinction is that the Due Diligence requirement only applies to the regulated ones.
Regulated timber products are specified in the Regulation and described by their 4-digit or greater tariff code. Schedule 1 to the Regulation specifies all the imported timber products that are subject to the Due Diligence requirements of the Regulation, using the harmonised tariff code system. Examples of codes that may affect the furniture industry are shown below:
Regulated Timber Products
|1||4403||Wood in the rough, whether or not stripped of bark or sapwood, or roughly squared|
|2||4407||Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness exceeding 6 mm|
|3||4408||Sheets for veneering (including those obtained by slicing laminated wood), for plywood or for similar laminated wood and other wood, sawn lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, sanded, spliced or end-jointed, of a thickness not exceeding 6 mm|
|4||4409.10.00||Wood (including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, not assembled) continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, moulded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed: – coniferous|
|4A||4409.22.00||Wood (including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, not assembled) continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, moulded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed: – of tropical wood|
|5||4409.29.00||Wood (including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, not assembled) continuously shaped (tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, moulded, rounded or the like) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed: – non-coniferous – other.|
|6||4410||Particle board, oriented strand board (osb) and similar board (for example, waferboard) of wood or other ligneous materials, whether or not agglomerated with resins or other organic binding substances|
|7||4411||Fibreboard of wood or other ligneous materials, whether or not bonded with resins or other organic substances|
|8||4412||Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood|
|9||4413.00.00||Densified wood, in blocks, plates, strips or profile shapes|
|10||4414.00.00||Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood|
|11||4416.00.00||Densified wood, in blocks, plates, strips or profile shapes|
|12||4418||Builders’ joinery and carpentry of wood, including cellular wood panels, assembled flooring panels, shingles and shakes|
|13||4701.00.00||Mechanical wood pulp|
|14||4702.00.00||Chemical wood pulp, dissolving grades|
|15||4703||Chemical wood pulp, soda or sulphate, other than dissolving grades|
|16||4704||Chemical wood pulp, sulphite, other than dissolving grades|
|17||4705.00.00||Wood pulp obtained by a combination of mechanical and chemical pulping processes|
|18||4801||Newsprint, in rolls or sheets|
|19||4802||Uncoated paper and paperboard, of a kind used for writing, printing or other graphic purposes, and non-perforated punch-cards and punch tape paper, in rolls or rectangular (including square) sheets, of any size, other than paper of 4801 or 4803; hand-made paper and paperboard|
|20||4803||Toilet or facial tissue stock, towel or napkin stock and similar paper of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibres, whether or not creped, crinkled, embossed, perforated, surface-coloured, surface-decorated or printed, in rolls or sheets|
|21||4804||Uncoated kraft paper and paperboard, in rolls or sheets, other than that of 4802 or 4803|
|22||4805||Other uncoated paper and paperboard, in rolls or sheets, not further worked or processed than as specified in note 3 to this chapter|
|23||4806.20.00||Vegetable parchment, greaseproof papers, tracing papers and glassine and other glazed transparent or translucent papers, in rolls or sheets: greaseproof papers|
|24||4806.30.00||Vegetable parchment, greaseproof papers, tracing papers and glassine and other glazed transparent or translucent papers, in rolls or sheets: – tracing papers|
|25||4806.40.00||Vegetable parchment, greaseproof papers, tracing papers and glassine and other glazed transparent or translucent papers, in rolls or sheets: – glassine and other glazed transparent or translucent papers|
|26||4807.00.00||Composite paper and paperboard (made by sticking flat layers of paper or paperboard together with an adhesive), not Surface-coated or impregnated, whether or not internally reinforced, in rolls or sheets|
|27||4808||Paper and paperboard, corrugated (with or without glued flat surface sheets), creped, crinkled, embossed or perforated, in rolls or sheets, other than paper of the kind described in 4803|
|28||4809||Carbon paper, self-copy paper and other copying or transfer papers (including coated or impregnated paper for duplicator stencils or offset plates), whether or not printed, in rolls or sheets|
|29||4810||Paper and paperboard, coated on one or both sides with kaolin (china clay) or other inorganic substances, with or without a binder, and with no other coating, whether or not surface-coloured, surface-decorated or printed, in rolls or rectangular (including square) sheets, of any size|
|30||4811||Paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibres, coated, impregnated, covered, surface-coloured, surface-decorated or printed, in rolls or rectangular (including square) sheets, of any size, other than goods of the kind described in 4803, 4809 or 4810|
|31||4813||Cigarette paper, whether or not cut to size or in the form of booklets or tubes|
|32||4816||Carbon paper, self-copy paper and other copying or transfer papers (other than those of 4809), duplicator stencils and offset plates, of paper, whether or not put up in boxes|
|33||4817||Envelopes, letter cards, plain postcards and correspondence cards, of paper or paperboard; boxes, pouches, wallets and writing compendiums, of paper or paperboard, containing an assortment of paper stationery|
|34||4818||Toilet paper and similar paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres, of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes, in rolls of a width not exceeding 36 cm, or cut to size or shape; handkerchiefs, cleansing tissues, towels, tablecloths, serviettes, bed sheets and similar household, sanitary or hospital articles, articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of paper pulp, paper, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres|
|35||4819||Cartons, boxes, cases, bags and other packing containers, of paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres; box files, letter trays, and similar articles, of paper or paperboard of a kind used in offices, shops or the like|
|36||4820||Registers, account books, note books, order books, receipt books, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles, exercise books, blotting-pads, binders (loose-leaf or other), folders, file covers, manifold business forms, interleaved carbon sets and other articles of stationery, of paper or paperboard; albums for samples or for collections and book covers, of paper or paperboard|
|37||4821||Paper or paperboard labels of all kinds, whether or not printed|
|38||4823||Other paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibres, cut to size or shape; other articles of paper pulp, paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibres|
Seats (other than those of 9402), whether or not convertible into beds, and parts thereof:
|41||9403.30.00||OTHER FURNITURE AND PARTS THEREOF: – Wooden furniture of a kind used in offices|
|42||9403.40.00||OTHER FURNITURE AND PARTS THEREOF: – Wooden furniture of a kind used in the kitchen|
|43||9403.50.00||OTHER FURNITURE AND PARTS THEREOF: – Wooden furniture of a kind used in the bedroom|
|44||9403.60.00||OTHER FURNITURE AND PARTS THEREOF: – Other wooden furniture|
|45||9403.90.00||Other furniture and parts thereof: – parts|
|46||9406.10.00||PREFABRICATED BUILDINGS: – Of wood|
Note: Items 45 and 46 only apply to products that are made from, or include, timber
Harmonised tariff codes are also found in Schedule 3 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995 available at: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017C00410 (Please check that it is the current version as there are frequent updates.)
If you have imported the product before, previous import documentation will likely include the relevant tariff code. If you use a customs broker, you may also wish to contact them for this information. The Department of Home Affairs website also provides extensive information on tariff classification www.homeaffairs.gov.au and an advice line (1300 363 263).
1.4.1 What is not Regulated
There are several materials that are not regulated. Packaging materials that are used to support, protect, or carry the product being imported are not regulated under the illegal logging laws. However, if you are specifically importing packaging materials into Australia, e.g. a consignment of cartons or wooden crates, you are likely to be regulated and will need to undertake due diligence on the materials if they are imported under a regulated tariff code.
There are some exemptions under the regulation. These include:
- regulated timber product that is entirely made from recycled material;
- if a regulated timber product is partially made from recycled material—the part of the regulated timber product that is made from recycled material;
- a regulated timber product that is imported as part of a consignment if the combined value of the regulated timber products in the consignment, on import, does not exceed $1,000.
It should be noted that materials such as bark, cork, osier, vegetable parchment, rice, bamboo and rattan are not considered timber and therefore are not regulated under the illegal logging laws.
What Is Recycled Material
Under the legislation, timber in a regulated timber product is considered recycled material if:
- the material has been, or has been part of, another product and
- at the time a material was removed from another product, that product was no longer used for its intended purpose and is considered to be waste; and
- the material has been used as raw material in the regulated timber product
Further guidance on these issues can be found at:
What Is Not a Recycled Material
Material in a regulated timber product is not considered recycled material under the illegal logging legislation if the material is the by-product of a manufacturing process. For example, sawdust or off-cuts from sawn timber used to make particle board or medium density fibreboard are not considered recycled material. If the supplier claims that the product is made from recycled material, you should try and get some evidence of this and record it in your Due Diligence records. A record form is provided in the AFA Timber Due Diligence System Template.
1.5 Processors of Domestically grown logs
Part 3 of the Regulation applies to domestic log processors within Australia. If a manufacturer processes locally grown logs the Regulation applies to them. This includes activities such as the processing of logs into woodchips, sawn timber, pulp, or other timber products. Processing of all domestically grown logs are subject to the Due Diligence requirements of the Regulation.
1.6 Declaration to Customs – Importers Only
Since 30 November 2014, importers or customs broker agents acting on their behalf are required to make a declaration to Customs about their compliance with the Regulation’s due diligence requirements when imports are cleared from the port of entry. As this part of the Regulation refers to import procedures, processors of Australian grown logs are not covered under this part of the Regulation.
This declaration is in the form of a Community Protection Question (CPQ) and must be completed as part of the import declaration process each time you import a regulated timber product.
The community protection question states: “Has the importer complied with due diligence requirements of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and associated regulations? (if the product is exempt or does not contain timber, answer yes)”.
If you have undertaken a suitable due diligence process and found that the product you are importing is low risk, you should answer yes. If your product is exempt from the regulations or does not contain any timber or wood-based elements, you should answer ‘yes’.
You must answer truthfully. Providing a false or misleading declaration is a criminal offence.
Note that this statement is required for each line item in the consignment. If the product is a non-regulated timber product there will be no prompt to answer the CPQ. For example, if you were importing a product with the tariff code 4420- ‘Wood marquetry and inlaid wood; jewellery or cutlery cases; statuettes; furniture not falling in Chapter 94’, You would not be asked the community protection question because this tariff code does not fall within the list of regulated timber products.
If you use a customs broker, it is advisable that you provide them with authority to allow them to answer the Community Protection Question on your behalf. There is an advice letter template available in the AFA Timber Due Diligence System Template that gives an example of the information that a customs broker may require.