27 Aug 2009

Greenpeace urges Australian government to ban imports of illegally logged timber

4:09 pm on 27 August 2009

The environmental group Greenpeace is calling on the Australian government to honour an election promise to ban the importation of timber and wood products logged illegally overseas, after reports the Forestry Minister has abandoned it.

The newspaper, The Age, has reported the Minister, Tony Burke, is backing down on the promise, and opting instead to promote the trade of legal timber.

A Greenpeace forest campaigner Grant Rosoman says the government must keep its promise to stop illegal timber imports as it's destructive to the environment and people.

"The logging has serious impacts because it brings a lot of money, it brings corruption, it brings alcohol, it brings gambling, prostitution. And in the end the community gets very little out of it. They're promised infrastructure, schools, health clinics, all these kinds of things and very little of it is delivered. They'll end up with a logging road that breaks down in a few years."

Grant Rosoman says Australia and New Zealand contribute to the degradation and deforestation in the tropics and must place restrictions on illegal timber exports.

Meanwhile, Australia's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries has released a statement saying the reports that the government has abandoned its election promised on illegal logging are incorrect.

The Ministry says it is facing an obstacle where it has no way of knowing which imported timber is legal and what is illegal and the government is now work on a solution to verify which imported timber has been logged legally.