A way to ensure timber is harvested legally
The legal harvest system will cover:
- forest owners, or those responsible for the harvest
- log traders
- primary or first-stage processors
Under the system, most will 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 will need to provide legal harvest information to the log buyer.
Some exemptions and thresholds will apply.
Forest owners will not be required to register unless they are also a log trader or exporter.
Anyone not required to register can 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 legal harvest system
The legal harvest 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 legal harvest system will work
Registered operators will need to set up a due diligence plan. The plan will have to show how they will reduce the risk of dealing with timber that is illegally harvested.
Some private certification schemes can be recognised as part of a due diligence system.
Forest owners, or those responsible for the harvest, will need to provide legal harvest statements and supporting evidence to log buyers, if requested.
Importers will 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 will need to
- pass a "fit and proper person" test, and
- do an annual compliance declaration.
Documentation will follow the logs or timber through each stage of the supply chain.
Exporters will be able to 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 will also need to register under the legal harvest system.
Enforcing the requirements
The legal harvest system will introduce new obligations. Offences will apply when regulated parties:
- fail to meet those obligations
- provide misleading or inaccurate information.
The compliance system will 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 system also provides for offences and infringement notices.
Offences and fines will be introduced around a year after it becomes mandatory to register and meet other requirements.
How MPI will administer the legal harvest system
MPI will 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.
Progress through Parliament
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. The Bill had a second reading on 9 March 2023 and third reading on 17 May. It received Royal assent on 19 May 2023.
The Act allows for up to 3 years for commencement and a further 12 months for compliance.Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Act 2023
Legal harvest assurance in other countries
The 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
Regulatory impact assessments
Workshop information pack for commercial forestry supply chain
Who to contact
If you have questions, email email@example.com