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Australia urged to ban illegally logged imports

Australia urged to ban illegally logged imports

The logging industry banded together with conservationists Tuesday to demand the government fulfill its promise to ban illegally logged imports.
Australia estimates 9 percent of its wood and paper imports, worth 400 million Australian dollars ($335 million) a year, are illegally logged, mainly by neighbors Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
The Australian government rejected newspaper reports Tuesday that it abandoned its two-year-old election promise to ban such imports.
But Forestry Minister Tony Burke said it was not yet possible to block the imports because "we have no way of knowing which imported timber is legal and which is illegal," he said in a statement.
The conservation group Greenpeace called for government action to end illegal imports in a statement issued Tuesday. It was signed by other environmental groups as well as major timber retailers, merchants and the national body representing Australian plantation growers known as A3P.
"A3P urges the government to deliver on its stated election commitments to prevent the importation of illegal forest products into Australia," Chief Executive Richard Stanton said in the statement.
The groups complained that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government, which was elected in November 2007, had yet to release a policy option paper detailing how the government might bar the imports.
Burke said Tuesday that a policy paper will be released soon.
Australia has negotiated agreements with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to help identity legally felled trees, he said. Similar agreements were being discussed with China and Malaysia.
Michael Spencer, chief executive of the Forest Stewardship Council in Australia, a nonprofit organization that promotes independent certification and labeling of products from responsibly managed forests, said the government is wary of banning wood imports.
"They're concerned about trade reprisals from other countries such as Malaysia who may well choose to highlight deficiencies in Australian forest management," Spencer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.


Updated : 2021-05-09 18:29 GMT+08:00