High profile illegal logging cases

Image credit: WWF.org

Before we starting reminding you constantly of the upcoming SOLAS convention, we were informing you of the changes in importing regulated timber products into Australia (oh, and of course who could forget our notices on the brown marmorated stink bugs!).

We realise that for most importers, the introduction of the new law involving regulated timber products and illegal logging / due diligence seemed to be a “out of this world” but the ramifications of illegal logging are very real with the impacts being felt worldwide.

The Department of Agriculture have recently reported on two high profile international illegal logging news stories. These reports show that well established businesses remain under high risk to the illegal logging trade:

Lumber Liquidators

On 22 October 2015, the media reported that USA based Lumber Liquidators Inc.(reportedly the largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States) pleaded guilty to environmental crimes related to illegal importation of hardwood flooring. According to the media, the conviction says that Lumber Liquidators flooring was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in eastern Russia. In total, Lumber Liquidators agreed to pay $USD13.13 million — including a USD$7.8 million criminal fine and more than USD$1.23 million in community service payments. It is also on a five-year probationary period while it implements a Lacey Act Compliance Plan.  It has also been reported that Lumber Liquidators must cut supply chain ties with Xingjia, the supplier which is the source of this illegal hardwood, and adopt and implement a comprehensive procurement policy that ensures the company will never again be involved in destroying old growth and endangered forests, abuse of human rights and run away climate change.

Holzindustrie Schweighofer

On 21 October 2015, The Guardian reported that a major Austrian timber company been accused of illegal logging in Romania. A two-year investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency US (EIA), an NGO, says it recorded officials from Holzindustrie Schweighofer offering to buy illegal timber from investigators posing as buyers and filmed unmarked logs dumped at the company’s depots in apparent violation of Romanian law.

Have a look at the EIA’s investigations on their website.

These two incidents come as a timely reminder to all importers for regulated timber products that the Department of Agriculture continue to run compliance assessments, checking that importers are conducting their due diligence correctly and comprehensively.

For more information regarding the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 head to the Department of Agriculture’s dedicated website, or contact us directly.

Source: The Department of Agriculture