In another blow to illegal loggers, Australia has passed the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, joining the U.S. in outlawing the importation of illegal logged timber from abroad. The new legislation makes it a criminal offense for Australian businesses to import timber from illegal operations. The Australian government estimates that $400 million worth of illegal timber products are sold in the country each year often as outdoor furniture and wood for decks.
"The illegal timber trade is a trade that benefits no one. It risks jobs, it risks the timber industry, and it risks the environment," Australian Forestry Minister Joe Ludwig said in a statement.
The law was pushed by a wide coalition of businesses, environmental groups, and social and religious organizations. Retailers like IKEA, Bunnings, Simmonds Lumber, and Kimberly Clark all supported the law, while Uniting Church, World Vision, WWF, Oxfam, the Wilderness Society, and Greenpeace lobbied for it.
"[The law] criminalize[s] a trade that many Australians would already presume to be banned," Reece Turner, a forests campaigner with Greenpeace Australia-Pacific, said. "Illegal logging often involves land theft, trashing national parks and breeds corruption and human rights abuse. It's a huge challenge to countries in our region including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia."
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