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Illegal Logging Due Diligence - Where are Australian businesses falling short?

November 11, 2019

 

The Australian Department of Agriculture has provided the following information in their Illegal logging laws e-update #29.

 

Since early 2015, the Department has been conducting regular compliance audits of businesses' due diligence systems. Audited businesses are asked to provide information about their due diligence system and how it has been applied to a particular timber product.

 

Recent compliance assessments have shown that some businesses are still struggling with elements of the due diligence process. Some identified areas of confusion include:

  • Businesses failing to undertake their due diligence before processing or importing - Some businesses are only conducting their due diligence after they are selected for a compliance assessment. This defeats the whole purpose of the due diligence process and is easily detected. Businesses 'retrofitting' their due diligence requirements can face financial penalties.

  • Relying solely on 'legality' statements made by exporters/suppliers - Some businesses have been relying on supplier statements that 'their products are legal' to try and satisfy their due diligence obligations. Australia's illegal logging laws require businesses to actively understand and manage the legality risks associated with their supply chains. A simple 'trust me' statement from a supplier is not sufficient evidence to support timber legality claims.

  • Not ensuring forest certification claims apply to their products - A number of businesses have been relying on FSC or PEFC certification to support their due diligence process. However, some of these businesses are failing to ensure their products are actually certified, or that the certification applies to the entire supply chain for that product. A guide to ensuring your products are properly certified can be found on the Department's illegal logging webpages.

  • Not considering supporting information - The laws require businesses to gather information to support their due diligence process. However, some businesses are not using the supporting information to inform their risk assessment process. It is important that when assessing the risk associated with your products that you consider all of the information you have access to.

 

Stephen Mitchell Associates can assist you in setting up and/or implementing your illegal logging due diligence system. Contact Stephen Mitchell on +61 2 8006 8850 or email admin@smassociates.com.au

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