The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill passed through the House of Representatives today is a step in the right direction to curbing the illegal timber trade, but more needs to be done to strengthen the legislation to really stop the illegal destruction of our planet's remaining forests.
The Greens are calling for a clearer definition of illegal logging, solid criteria for due diligence on timber sources and better assessing and reporting compliance in the legislation.
"Illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber causes enormous damage to forests and the people and communities who live in and around them," Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, said today.
"It costs governments, particularly in developing countries, billions of dollars in lost revenue; it promotes corruption; it undermines the rule of law and good governance; and it hinders sustainable development in some of the poorest countries of the world.
"Both the timber industry and environmental organisations agree that the definition of illegal logging should be better explained. We need due diligence so that corruption doesn't allow illegal logging to continue. We need regular compliance audits in the bill to ensure that our standards are upheld.
"Reports indicate that more than half of all logging activities in the most vulnerable forest regions may be conducted illegally and illegal logging may account for over a tenth of the global timber trade.
"For too long, consumer countries, including Australia, have contributed to these problems by importing timber and wood products without ensuring that they are legally sourced.
"The Government committed during the 2007 election campaign to legislate to stop the use of illegal timber in Australia. This legislation is a step in the right direction to stop this environmentally and socially destructive trade, but after all this time it is a great pity it is not stronger."