Furniture a big offender in $450m of imports using illegally logged timber
Styczeń 5, 2009
AUSTRALIA imports about $450 million of illegally logged timber products a year and up to half is furniture.
Most comes from South-East Asia, with the main problem areas Indonesia, Malaysia and possibly China, consultancy Jaakko Poyry says in a report for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The $450 million is about 9 per cent of Australia’s $4.9 billion of forestry products imports, which includes furniture. The report estimates 22 per cent, or $214 million, of furniture imports are sourced from illegal logging.
Other products affected are paper and paperboard, wood-based panels, sawn wood and miscellaneous products, such as doors and mouldings. Jaakko Poyry’s principal Rob de Fegely said illegally harvested products contributed to forest destruction and artificially lowered prices, creating a disadvantage for legal operators. The problem would not disappear because Australia would continue to import many timber products. „Further reservations of Australian forests from production could exacerbate the imports of illegal or suspect products,” he said. Mr de Fegely said the Australian market had no formal structures to prevent illegally harvested imports. „There seems to be little awareness at the retail level of the problem,” he said. Mr de Fegely said certification at the country and company level was a possible solution. „A process of shifting to certification over a five-year period for imported product is much more likely to succeed … than a blanket trade restriction,” he said.
Chief executive of the National Association of Forest Industries Catherine Murphy said the report bolstered the case for Australian timber products certified under the Australian Forestry Standard. Forests campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation Lindsay Hesketh said the ACF strongly supported Forest Stewardship Council certification. Several Australian plantation companies had received FSC certification, and Australian consumers could buy their products confident they had been sustainably harvested, he said.