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South Korea new requirements for compliance

South Korea, one of the world’s largest importers of timber and woodbased products, has announced changes to its ‘Act on the Sustainable Use of Wood’ as it continues to enforce rigorous compliance against illegal logging. Source: Timberbiz

About 84% of the country’s demand for wood is currently met by importers with New Zealand and Australia two of the country’s largest suppliers of log timber and sawn wood.

The changes represent a significant shift towards establishing a distribution order for timber, with importers now liable under South Korean law to document all relevant information as it relates to legal logging over the last five years.

From October 1, the industry will be required to lodge an ‘import declaration form’ to the ministry responsible for the Korea Forest Service when importing timber or timber based products, with confirmation of documents to be issued to the customs officer for clearance.

The requirements apply to wood pellets (4401.31), logs (4403), sawn timber (4407) and plywood (4412).

In return, importers will be issued with a ‘certificate of import declaration’ confirming the timbers legality, with suspension of sale, return or revocation of order if legality of the timber cannot be substantiated.

Under a new enforcement, importers must now present the Minister of the Korea Forest Service with a document that is internationally recognised to certify timber legality.

To demonstrate legality, importers can provide the Minister with a PEFC Forest Management and Forest Product Certificate or a certificate from Responsible Wood, the governing body for PEFC in Australia.

Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries said the latest enforcement represented a ‘game change’ for the global timber import market.

“These new penalties for noncompliance underpin a greater global commitment to procure certified timber in accordance with internationally recognised standards,” Mr Dorries said.

In 2017, New Zealand was the largest exporter of log timber to South Korea, supplying more than 40% of the country’s total importation of log timber.

Who is affected?

• All exporters of the specified wood products to the Korea.

• All forest owners/managers who are harvesting and have logs exported to Korea.

• All forest owners/managers who are harvesting and send logs to mills which export sawn timber, wood pellets or plywood to Korea.