Australia's bilateral relationships on forestry

The Australian Government works with governments in the Asia-Pacific region to improve their standards of forest management and combat illegal logging while also supporting the trade in legally harvested timber and timber products. The Department of Agriculture collaborates with Australia's regional neighbours to shape and manage these and other key forestry matters through bilateral and multilateral forums.

Australia works closely with a number of countries to ensure the global forestry and forest management objectives - as agreed through the United Nations Forum on Forests - are achieved, including:

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Australia and Papua New Guinea

Australia and Papua New Guinea signed a new memorandum of understanding in December 2014. The aim of the memorandum of understanding is to encourage greater cooperation in relation to:

  • Promoting an understanding of each Partner’s national forestry policy and legislative frameworks
  • Promoting trade in legal timber and timber products
  • Promoting the sustainable management of forests
  • Promoting effective governance in forest industries
  • Promoting investment in forest industries
  • Identifying opportunities for collaboration on forest research, training and secondment activities
  • Identifying areas for cooperation on forestry issues through multilateral forestry fora.

Australia – Papua New Guinea forestry cooperation bilateral meetings are held approximately every 12-18 months, alternating between being hosted in Australia and PNG.

Australia and Indonesia

The Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum established the Australia-Indonesia Working Group on Agriculture and Food Cooperation (WGAFC) in 1992. In 2006, the working group expanded to consider forestry cooperation, and is now referred to as the Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation (WGAFFC).

The group’s purpose is to maximise opportunities and increase and strengthen cooperation between Australia and Indonesia on trade and investment in food and agriculture. The working group also serves as a forum to discuss bilateral bioscecurity and agricultural market access issues.

The Australian and Indonesian Governments signed a Letter of Intent in November 2008 concerning cooperation in forestry which primarily focuses on capacity building and verifying the legal origins of the timber products. The Letter of Intent builds on the existing bilateral arrangements between the Australian and Indonesian Governments, the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum and the Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation. The Letter of Intent provides a framework to support:

  • Cooperation on building capacity of forest professionals and experts to implement sustainable forest management practices in the region including preventing illegal logging.
  • Work toward determining legal requirements for the trade of timber and wood products.
  • The development of systems that assure the legality of timber and wood products which include forest certification and chain of custody.
  • Collaboration to enhance forest law enforcement and governance and encourage sourcing of timber and wood products from legal and sustainable forest practices.

The WGAFFC meetings are held annually, alternately in Australia and Indonesia.

Australia and Malaysia

The Malaysia-Australia Agricultural Cooperation Working Group (MAACWG) met in Putra Jaya, Malaysia in August 2007 and agreed to expand the role of the working group to include forestry matters.

Under the MAACWG the Forestry and Timber Sub-Working Group cooperates on activities in support of sustainable forest management, including:

The MAACWG meetings are held approximately every two years, alternately in Australia and Malaysia.

Australia and the Republic of Korea

In 1997 the then Department of Primary Industries and Energy (now the Department of Agriculture) and the Korean Forestry Administration (now the Korea Forest Service ) signed an arrangement and formed the Korea-Australia Forestry Cooperative Committee (KAFCC) which meets approximately every two years.

The KAFCC is an effective medium for developing closer cooperation between Australia and the Republic of Korea on forestry matters such as research, investment and trade and focuses on the key areas of:

  • Information on investment opportunities in Australian plantations and export opportunities for Australian forest products to Korea.
  • Developing an understanding of the requirements for countries seeking to achieve forest certification.
  • Arranging an exchange of forestry professionals between Korea and Australia.

Australia and China

The Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement (ACACA) promotes cooperation on forestry matters and enhancing trade opportunities between the two countries. ACACA was signed in 1984 to:

  • Enhance cooperation in a wide range of agricultural sectors.
  • Develop agricultural trading relationships.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of scientific information.

Australia and China meet under the agreement to discuss forestry matters supported by the Joint Working Group on Forestry (JWGF) that was established in 1988. Meetings are generally held every three years, alternately in Australia and China.

To complement this agreement and to guide cooperation between Australia and China on forestry matters, the Australian and Chinese Governments signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009 concerning cooperation in forestry and combating illegal logging and associated trade. The memorandum of understanding provides a framework to support Australian and Chinese cooperation in the following areas:

  • Enhancing global and regional efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade.
  • Promoting sustainable forest management.
  • Facilitating a common understanding in the Asia-Pacific region of the requirements for legality verification of internationally traded timber.
  • Encouraging trade in timber and wood products from legally harvested and sustainable managed forests.
  • Enhancing forest law enforcement and governance, and sharing information on forest certification schemes.
  • Building capacity of forest management professionals and experts in the Asia-Pacific region to implement sustainable forest management practices in the region including preventing illegal logging.

The Illegal Logging Working Group (ILWG) exists under the JWGF to carry out the objectives of the memorandum of understanding. The group had its first meeting immediately following the JWGF meeting on 1 September 2010 and now meets in conjunction with the JWGF meetings.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand strengthened their long standing cooperation on forestry matters by signing the Arrangement on Combating Illegal Logging and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management on 21 August 2012. The arrangement illustrates a shared commitment to working together to address illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management.

The arrangement recognises that illegal logging and associated trade is a significant global problem and that Australia and New Zealand will together play an important role in combating these practices.

The arrangement:

  • Provides a framework for ongoing bilateral cooperation against the illegal logging trade and its impact on jobs, economies and the environment.
  • Will build the capacity of government and industry to manage forests sustainably and promote systems to verify the legality of timber and wood products in Australia, New Zealand and the wider Asia Pacific region.

Australia and New Zealand meet formally on an ‘as needs’ basis. Australia and New Zealand often conduct ad-hoc ‘informal’ meetings in the margins of larger multilateral meetings.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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