Turning over a new leaf.

P hoto by spDuchamp | flickr.com
Photo by spDuchamp | flickr.com

Australia has recently approved the Illegally Logging Prohibition Bill, following the United States. This creates a new law that forbids the use of illegally extracted timber from entering into Australia. The penalties are severe - including forfeiting illegal timber products and “fining up to $275,000 for a business and $55,000 for an individual, and 5 years in jail”.

However, this has the potential to create a dangerous black market for imported wood, so many organizations such as WWF, the Wilderness Society, and Greenpeace opposed to the law. By establishing such law, it can be very dangerous for the activists and journalists to venture onto the affected ground as they can be frequently assaulted and even murdered. Local businesses will also be affected because more illegal wood timber transport will mean that buyers can buy the wood from the black markets for cheaper prices.

The good side of banning illegal wood is the decline of global illegal trade. The United States was the first country to outlaw the importation of protected wood. This importation has dropped 22% globally since they outlawed the illegal wood trade in 2008. Many experts say that the initiation of the U.S.’s move played a major role in the decline. The European Union is set to follow the U.S. and Australia in 2013.

Many laws and other complex systems always have controversial sides. Both supporters and lobbyists are not wrong and neither is completely right. To ensure that the situation can be successfully solved, it is important to consider different scenarios and from different perceptive.

Yoko Lu