21 December, 2005

ARTICLE: Neighbours warned to act on illegal logging

Greg Roberts
The Australian, December 19, 2005

AUSTRALIA'S neighbours have been put on notice to crack down on illegal logging in their rainforests or face tight restrictions on timber exports to the nation.

Federal Forestry Minister Ian Macdonald, who will meet officials in Jakarta today to urge tougher action, said illegal logging was widespread in Indonesia, PNG and the Solomon Islands.

"We have to stop the slaughter of rainforests in some of these countries," Senator Macdonald said yesterday. "This illegal trade is a threat to some of the world's most unique and rare forests."

Senator Macdonald said Australia was trying to persuade the nations to agree to international standards requiring logging to be conducted sustainably.

While mindful of the difficulties faced by developing countries in enforcing forestry standards, Senator Macdonald said the Government would legislate if necessary to ban the import of illegally felled timber.

"Local villagers get little or no value or employment from the illegal harvest," Senator Macdonald said. "The failure to manage the resource properly means that the forests, once harvested, are gone forever."

He said Indonesia had shown genuine interest in reforming its industry and he would pursue the matter today with Forestry Minister Malem Sambat Kaban."

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