Exports of Unprocessed Wood (Wood Export Licensing)

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When do you need an export licence?

The Export Control Act 1982, and the regulations under this Act, requires an export licence from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture for two tonnes or more of:

  • woodchips
  • wood in the round which is intended to undergo further processing following export^
  • wood with a cross sectional area of 225 square centimetres or greater which is intended to undergo further processing following export

^ Sandalwood requires an export licence.

When do you not need an export licence?

  • If wood is sourced from an area covered by a Regional Forest Agreement.
  • If wood is sourced from a plantation in any state or territory except Queensland.

Possible importing country requirements

Some forest products may require an inspection for which a phytosanitary certificate or any other official certificate is required by an importing country. It is your responsibility as an exporter to find out the importing country’s requirements prior to export. For further information regarding phytosanitary certificates or importing country requirements, please visit the Exporting Plants and Plant Products page.

Applications

Export licences issued by the department are not the same as harvesting and selling licences issued by a state. The department has no involvement in state-issued licences, but does require an exporter to have this documentation in order to be granted an export licence.

To be granted an export licence by the department, you will need to supply the following documents:

  • A completed application form.
  • A copy of all relevant state-issued documentation that authorises the harvest and sale of the wood (such as harvesting, clearing licences and sales permits).
  • A copy of documentation relating to the sale (for example, a sales receipt, a confirmation of order, a letter of intent to buy or a tax invoice).

Applications and documentation can be sent to the department via email, fax or postal mail. They take up to two weeks to process.

Note: If you send your application by fax or email, please retain your original signed application. The department may request the original signed documents or require you to retain the original documents for a specified period.

After shipment

The department may require evidence of the amount of wood actually exported on the licence. The department has the right to request documentation relating to the shipment. Documents requested may include a final sales documentation or export documentation clearly stating the exact amount of wood exported. These documents will be treated as commercial-in-confidence.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is treated differently to other wood and is closely monitored by state authorities to prevent illegal harvesting and unsustainable practices.

  • You do not require a licence if the sandalwood is sourced from plantations in any state or territory, except Queensland.
  • If your sandalwood is not from a plantation (or is from a plantation in Queensland) you will require an export licence. Licences are issued per shipment If you require a licence to cover multiple shipments (for example, if you have three or more shipments in a month), please contact the Export Licensing Officer to discuss.
  • If all the required documentation is not provided or the application is incomplete, your application cannot be processed.

Queensland Sandalwood

To export sandalwood from Queensland, you are required to have:

  1. Protected Plant Harvesting Licence

    To harvest sandalwood in Queensland, you are required to have a Protected Plant Harvesting Licence that is issued by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The department requests copies of this licence to demonstrate that the wood was harvested in accordance with state government requirements. If you are not the harvester and buying wood to export, you are still required to provide a copy of the Protected Plant Harvesting Licence.

  2. Sales Documentation

    The department requires copies of sales documentation. This is to demonstrate that the wood being exported has an intended purpose. Examples of acceptable documentation may be a sales receipt, a confirmation of order, a letter of intent to buy or a tax invoice.

Western Australian Sandalwood

To export sandalwood from Western Australia you are required to have:

  1. Sandalwood Licence

    To harvest sandalwood in Western Australia you are required to have a Sandalwood Licence issued by the Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. The department requests copies of this licence to demonstrate that the wood was harvested in accordance with state government requirements. If you are not the harvester and are buying wood to export, you are still required to have a copy of the Sandalwood Licence.

  2. Commercial Producer's Licence

    To sell any green sandalwood you are required to have a Commercial Producers Licence issued by the Western Australian Government Department of Parks and Wildlife. The department requests copies of this licence to demonstrate that the wood was harvested in accordance with state government requirements.

  3. Sales Documentation

    The department requires copies of sales documentation. This is to demonstrate that the wood being exported has an intended purpose. Examples of acceptable documentation may be a sales receipt, a confirmation of order, a letter of intent to buy or a tax invoice.

Softwood

You do not require an export licence for plantation softwood, unless the wood is sourced from Queensland.

Queensland


Non–native Softwood (such as Caribbean Pine)

If the non–native softwood is from freehold land, you require proof of authority to harvest and maps detailing the location of the property. If the non–native softwood is from state land, you will be required to have the appropriate harvesting and selling permits.

Native Softwood (such as Cypress Pine)

All plants that are native to Australia are 'protected plants' under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Information on the requirements for the clearing, growing, harvesting and trade of protected plants in Queensland is available from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Hardwood (Native)

Wood that is sourced from an area covered by a Regional Forest Agreement does not require an export licence. You do not require an export licence for plantation hardwood, unless the wood is sourced from Queensland.

Each state and territory has different requirements for the clearing, harvesting and sale of hardwood from Crown and freehold land. The following are indicative of the state requirements.

Queensland

In Queensland, all plants that are native to Australia are protected plants under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 regulates the clearing, growing, harvesting and trade of protected plants in Queensland. In most instances, commonly occurring native plants can be taken and used for a range of commercial, operational and recreational purposes in Queensland without a licence or permit. However, a licence, permit or authority may be required to take and use restricted protected plants. A restricted plant is a native plant listed as special least concern, near threatened, vulnerable or endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Information on the requirements for the clearing, growing, harvesting and trade of protected plants in Queensland is available from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Tasmania

The entire state is covered by a Regional Forest Agreement, so there is no requirement for an export licence. All harvesting must meet the RFA requirements.

New South Wales

Some areas in New South Wales are covered by a Regional Forest Agreement and wood sourced from these regions does not require an export licence. Wood sourced from plantations anywhere in New South Wales is also exempt from requiring an export licence.

Clearing remnant native vegetation or protected regrowth requires approval under the Native Vegetation Act 2003 unless the clearing is a permitted activity. Where clearing does require approval, landholders may apply to their local Catchment Management Authority (CMA) either to prepare a Property Vegetation Plan (PVP) or make an application for Development Consent. PVPs are negotiated agreements between a landholder and a CMA.

Further information is available from Environment and Heritage NSW at 'Native vegetation management'.

Victoria

Some areas in Victoria are covered by a Regional Forest Agreement and wood sourced from these regions does not require an export licence. Wood sourced from plantations is also exempt from requiring an export licence.

In Victoria, native vegetation is protected by legislation and a permit is required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation. These regulations are known as the native vegetation permitted clearing regulations.

Check with your local council before starting any work that could impact native vegetation as a planning permit may be required. Local councils assess the planning permit applications that propose clearing of native vegetation. There may additional requirements under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Further information is available from the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Australian Capital Territory

Plantation grown timber from the Australian Capital Territory does not require an export licence. For all other wood types please contact the Export Licensing Officer.

South Australia

In South Australia all timber production is plantation based. There is no harvesting of native vegetation. Plantation grown timber from South Australia does not require an export licence.

Further information is available from PIRSA Forestry.

Western Australia

Some areas in Western Australia are covered by Regional Forest Agreement and wood sourced from these regions does not require an export licence. Wood sourced from plantations is also exempt from requiring an export licence.

Western Australia's Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004 provide the regulatory framework for consideration of applications to clear native vegetation. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, clearing native vegetation requires a permit, unless the clearing is for an exempt purpose.  These laws apply to all private and public land throughout Western Australia.

Further information is available from the Western Australian Department of Environment Regulation.

Northern Territory

Native vegetation clearing in the Northern Territory is controlled by either the Planning Act or the Pastoral Land Act. The commercial harvesting of native vegetation is controlled under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. On freehold and Crown land, you must have consent to clear any more than one hectare (cumulative) of native vegetation on your land.

Further is available from the Northern Territory Department of Land Resource Management.

Salvaged Wood

If the wood you are seeking to export was obtained from salvage operations (such as urban tree removal) you require a completed application form and a statutory declaration clearly stating how you obtained the wood. Contact the Export Licensing Officer for more information.

Application Forms

Statutory Declaration

Contact

Further information can be obtained from the Export Licensing Officer at:

Forestry Branch
Australian Government Department of Agriculture
18 Marcus Clarke Street
Canberra City ACT 2601

GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6272 5079
Fax: 02 6272 4367
Email

Frequently Asked Questions – General


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What legislation are export licences issued under?

How much will it cost me to get a licence?

There is no cost for a licence.

How long does it take to process my application?

Once we have received a complete application and all required documentation, it can take up to two weeks to process.

Why do I have to supply sale documents?

The department must be satisfied that the wood being exported has an intended purpose and market.

What sales documents are acceptable?

Examples of acceptable documentation may be a sales receipt, a confirmation of order, a letter of intent to buy or a tax invoice.

How can I submit my application?

Applications and documentation can be sent to the department via postal mail, fax or email. If you send your application by fax or email, please retain your original signed application. The minister may request the original signed documents or require you to retain the original documents for a specified period.

How do I get the relevant state issued permits to harvest and sell my wood?

The department requires these permits to grant an export licence but is not involved in their issuing. You must contact the relevant state authority.

New South WalesOffice of Environment and Heritage

VictoriaDepartment of Environment and Primary Industries

QueenslandDepartment of Environment and Heritage Protection

South AustraliaDepartment of Primary Industries and Resources SA

Western AustraliaDepartment of Environment Regulation

TasmaniaForest Practices Authority

Australian Capital TerritoryEnvironment and Sustainable Development Directorate

Northern Territory - Department of Land Resource Management

Frequently Asked Questions – Sandalwood


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Why does the department issue sandalwood licences by shipment instead of for a time period?

The department monitors all shipment amounts to ensure all wood has been harvested under a valid state issued licence. Issuing licences by shipment enables more accurate tracking of wood amounts.

What if I have a number of sandalwood shipments?

If you have a number of shipments where the wood is sourced under the same state issued harvesting permit and going to the same buyer, please contact the Export Licensing Officer.