The problems with illegal logging
It's estimated that illegal logging accounts for up to 30% of the global timber trade, and contributes to more than 50% of tropical deforestation in Central Africa, the Amazon Basin and South East Asia.
Illegal logging causes enormous damage to forests, local communities and to the economies of producer countries. It affects local communities by taking away income from sustainable forestry practices. Deforestation also causes habitat loss of forest species (including endangered species), soil degradation and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
On the other hand, legally logged timber and sustainable forestry provide an important source of income for local communities (often in developing countries).
MPI's role in combatting the trade in illegally harvested timber
MPI combats importation of illegally logged timber through a number of activities including:
- encouraging voluntary industry initiatives
- developing policy to address illegal logging
- international engagement
- government policy for buying timber products.
We work with Australia and other countries to combat illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management.
Government agencies must apply the New Zealand Timber and wood products procurement policy, issued by MPI. The policy ensures they only buy legally sourced timber and timber products.
APEC Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade
New Zealand is a member of APEC and the Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT). The guide below can help importers work out whether timber has been legally harvested.
Legal harvest assurance system for timber
The Government is proposing to establish a national legal harvest assurance system that covers:
- forest owners, or those responsible for the harvest
- log traders
- primary or first-stage processors
Certification of legally logged timber
Choosing timber with sustainable forest management certification is one way to help make sure that the timber products you are importing have been legally harvested.
There are a number of different legality and sustainability certification schemes available globally. The schemes below are used by many participants in the New Zealand timber supply chain.
What you can do
Check tropical timber
Tropical timber has the highest risk of being illegally logged. Tropical hardwoods are durable and attractive for products such as decking timber and furniture. These are products to ask questions about.
Check timber certification
Check products before you buy them. Products such as outdoor furniture often have labels showing where the timber is from and certification. If the timber isn't certified, it might not be legally or sustainably logged.
Ask shop staff if you aren't sure where a product is from or whether it has been legally harvested.
You can also check to see whether the retailer is a member of the New Zealand Imported Timber Trade Group (ITTG). Importers and retailers that are members of ITTG aim to only import and sell sustainable timber products.
Who to contact
If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org