Media Releases - 30 June 2023

Regulations that prevent import of deforestation-linked products into EU enter force

Deforestation in Queensland. Image: Wilderness Society

New European Union Regulations have today come into force which will prevent the import of commodities linked to deforestation into the EU market. The Regulations may have a significant impact on ongoing free-trade agreement negotiations between the EU and Australia, and signal a growing global movement away from unsustainable supply chains.

Despite recent declarations to the contrary, Australia is a global deforestation hotspot, and the only ‘developed’ economy among the world’s biggest deforestation hotspots such as the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. Australia’s forests and bushland are being cleared at an accelerating rate, including high conservation value (HCV) areas. In Queensland alone, for example, 400,000 hectares of forest are cleared every year.

In Australia, native forest logging is exempt from oversight by our national environment laws. The industry is instead managed on a state by state basis under Regional Forest Agreements, which leave the gates wide open for unsustainable forestry practices.

Much of Australia’s deforestation is driven by agriculture, in particular beef, which is one of Australia’s main exports to the EU. In 2020 alone, Australia exported €132 million in beef to Europe. Additionally, mountain ash forest, some of which is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, is logged for packaging and window frame timber which is exported to Europe, amongst other places.

This EU Regulation sends a clear signal to industries everywhere that they must step up on deforestation, in particular via traceability and transparency in their zero-deforestation commitments. Corporate action on deforestation is becoming a key requirement to do global business, and the EU Regulation is just the latest manifestation of this shift.

For Australia, the Regulations should be seen as an opportunity to foster sustainable industries that do not rely on nature destruction.

Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society, said: “These world-first Regulations are a clear indication that the world is shifting towards deforestation free supply chains. Australia is a global deforestation leader, and these Regulations are giving us a clear glimpse into the future of supply chain traceability and transparency. If Australia is going to remain competitive in the global market, both the government and the corporate sector need to jump on this opportunity to step up, and grow sustainable industries that do not depend on the destruction of nature.”

For interviews with Hannah Schuch, Queensland Campaigns Manager, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, Media Adviser for The Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760