Proposed new legislation to reduce the risk that timber imported into Aotearoa New Zealand is sourced from illegal logging is a positive first step but it should go further, the Green Party says.
The Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament last night. The Bill will establish a legal framework intended to ensure that timber logged overseas and imported into Aotearoa New Zealand can be verified as being legally harvested.
“The Bill is a positive step but it needs to be about more than safeguarding market access for New Zealand timber products. We need a robust assurance and enforcement regime that looks beyond official documents into the whole supply chain, to prevent deforestation and illegal logging of tropical and temperate rainforests,” says Eugenie Sage, Green Party forestry spokesperson.
“The timber we use must be taken legally from sustainably managed forests with full regard for climate change, biodiversity and the rights of customary owners and indigenous peoples. For 20 years, successive governments in Aotearoa have relied on voluntary measures to guarantee the trade in legally harvested timber - and it hasn’t worked.
“This Government is absolutely right to take action to prevent the trade in illegally logged timber. While the Bill is a significant improvement on the status quo, it does not go far enough.
“The Green Party will be looking for changes to ensure the Bill has a more robust regime for identifying what constitutes legal harvest. The Bill should also be strengthened to make sure Aotearoa New Zealand is doing everything it can to stop human rights abuses, and the impacts that illegal logging has on customary forest owners and indigenous peoples.
“The Bill also needs to be expanded to cover not just timber products from illegally logged forests but all forest products including palm oil and palm kernel expeller (PKE) - a supplementary animal feed.
“The expansion of illegal palm oil plantations into Indonesia’s national forest estate and protected areas has been described by Greenpeace as the “largest single cause of destruction of critical Indonesian rainforests over the last two decades.” Aotearoa New Zealand is the world’s largest user of PKE and contributes to the loss of those forests.
“New Zealanders care deeply about the natural world and fairness and expect a robust system that ensures wood and other forest products are sustainably and ethically sourced,” says Eugenie Sage.