Customs and Excise (Sustainable Forestry) Amendment Bill

  • defeated on 18 November 2009

Explanatory note

Deforestation accounts for approximately 20 per cent of world annual greenhouse gas emissions and is one of the largest sources of emissions from the developing world. Deforestation also has profound negative effects on indigenous communities and on biodiversity. Therefore, avoiding deforestation can play a key role in defending our climate.

Deforestation is responsible for huge losses in biodiversity including many endangered species and their habitats. For some species facing a multiplicity of threats, deforestation is now synonymous with complete extinction. Such losses in biodiversity are in fact losses for the entire human race and they are forever.

Deforestation has disastrous impacts on the survival, resources, and collective well being of indigenous communities in forested regions. The loss of resources and relationships with the forests is a severe threat to the survival of forest-dependent indigenous people. A significant proportion of logging is illegal and unsustainable and New Zealand currently has no preventative mechanism to stop the resulting timber and wood products from being inadvertently sold in our shops.

In contrast, sustainable forestry in developing countries utilises the world’s forest resources in ways that do not contribute to deforestation and biodiversity loss. They enhance rather than destroy communities that live in forested regions. And they create meaningful and durable jobs that can lift communities permanently out of poverty.

The purpose of this Bill is to make amendments to the Customs and Excise Act 1996 (the principal Act) to prohibit the import into New Zealand of timber and wood products produced illegally and unsustainably.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 provides that the Bill comes into force on the day after it receives the Royal assent.

Clause 3 provides that the Bill amends the Customs and Excise Act 1996.

Clause 4 inserts a new definition of timber and wood products.

Clause 5 inserts two new sections. Section 54A makes it unlawful to import into New Zealand timber and wood products not certified under Schedule 11 as having been produced legally and sustainably. Section 54B provides that the Minister may add or omit certification schemes from the list in Schedule 11. Section 54B also provides what matters the Minister must have regard to when making a recommendation by Order in Council for changes to Schedule 11.

Clause 6 makes three amendments to section 209, which relates to the importation or exportation of prohibited goods. The first amendment is to insert a new subsection (1)(aa) to make it an offence to import goods prohibited by section 54A. The second amendment is to insert a new subsection (3A) to provide penalties for a breach of subsection (1)(aa). The third amendment is to insert a new subsection (3B) to provide that the offences in section 209(1)(a), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) with any necessary modifications will apply to prohibited timber imports under section 54A(1).

Clause 7 adds a new Schedule 11 to provide for Legal and Sustainable Timber Certification Schemes that comply with the criteria in the new section 54A(3).