THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry fined 14 furniture importers more than $186,000 last week because they didn’t act to minimise the risk of importing illegally harvested timber.

DAFF head of compliance and enforcement Peter Timson said Australia has strict requirements for importing timber and it is essential to hold importers to account.

“We are enforcing our powers to help combat illegal logging which has been linked to organised crime, civil unrest, corruption, species extinction and environmental destruction around the world,” Mr Timson said.

“Importers must conduct adequate due diligence assessments. They must understand where they are sourcing their timber from and to limit the risk of it being illegally harvested. These importers didn’t follow the rules and fourteen fines were issued of $13,320 each.”

Mr Timson said the illegal trade can comprise up to 10% of timber products entering Australia, undercutting local Australian production, regional businesses, and communities.

“It’s important that Australians have confidence that their furniture, housing materials and other timber products come from sustainably and responsibly sourced timber,” he said.

“Australia’s strict timber importing requirements set a high bar internationally. We also work with APEC member economies and relevant international organisations to combat the trade in illegally logged timber products globally.”

The fines were issued under the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 and the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.