A way to ensure timber is harvested legally
The legal harvest assurance system would cover:
- forest owners, or those responsible for the harvest
- log traders
- primary or first-stage processors
Under the system, most would have to:
- register with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
- show how they'll reduce the risk of dealing with timber that is illegally harvested (due diligence).
Under the system, forest owners or those responsible for the harvest would need to provide legal harvest information to the log buyer.
Some exemptions and thresholds would apply.
Forest owners would not be required to register unless they were also a log trader or exporter.
Anyone not required to register could still register voluntarily. They might do this if:
- they were exporting
- their customers were asking for evidence that showed timber was legally harvested.
Benefits of the system
The system will:
- help reduce illegal logging
- make it easier for exporters to sell timber overseas
- reduce the risk of timber not being legally harvested
- help ensure timber products imported into New Zealand come from legally harvested forests.
How the system might work
Registered operators would need to set up a due diligence plan. The plan would have to show how they'll reduce the risk of dealing with timber that is illegally harvested.
Some private certification schemes could be recognised as part of a due diligence system.
Forest owners, or those responsible for the harvest, would need to provide legal harvest statements and supporting evidence to log buyers, if requested.
Importers would need to use their due diligence system to verify timber products they are importing into New Zealand come from legally harvested forests.
All registered parties would need to
- pass a "fit and proper person" test, and
- do an annual compliance declaration.
Documentation would follow the logs or timber through each stage of the supply chain.
Exporters could apply to MPI for an exporter statement to help them trade and gain access to markets.
Log traders already registered under the Forests Act 1949 would also need to register under the Legal Harvest Bill.
Enforcing the requirements
The legal harvest system would introduce new obligations. Offences would apply when regulated parties:
- failed to meet those obligations
- provided misleading or inaccurate information.
The compliance system would be graduated. For example, a warning notice might be issued if an officer believes a person is not complying with their obligations. The Legal Harvest Bill also provides for offences and infringement notices.
Offences and fines would be introduced around a year after it becomes mandatory to register and meet other requirements.
How MPI would administer the system
MPI would handle the registration system and:
- undertake fit and proper person assessments
- recognise assessors to assess due diligence plans
- issue the exporter statements
- monitor imports and exports
- recognise private certification schemes
- provide guidance and templates, such as for the due diligence plan and the legal harvest statement.
ESTIMATED IMPLEMENTATION TIMEFRAME AS AT JUNE 2022
- Introduction: The Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 18 May 2022
- 1st reading: 21 June 2022
- Select committee report: 14 December 2022
- 2nd reading: Early 2023
- 3rd reading and enactment: First half of 2023
- Commencement: Staged commencement
Progress through Parliament and consultation
The legislation was introduced to Parliament on 18 May 2022 and had a first reading on 21 June 2022. It was referred to the Primary Production Select Committee which made its report on 14 December 2022.
Legal harvest assurance in other countries
The proposed legislation is in line with some other countries. Countries with similar laws are the USA, Canada, the European Union, Australia, China, Vietnam, Republic of Korea, and Japan.
Existing voluntary forest certification schemes
Cabinet papers on legal harvest assurance
Preparing the forest system for the future (2019) [PDF, 2.9 MB]
Regulatory impact assessments
Proposed legislation for a wood legality system (2020) [PDF, 4.4 MB]
Workshop information pack for commercial forestry supply chain
Who to contact
If you have questions, email email@example.com