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Exports of Unprocessed Wood (Wood Export Licensing)
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:
- 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
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.
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.
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 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.
To export sandalwood from Queensland, you are required to have:
Commercial Harvesting Wildlife Licence
To harvest sandalwood in Queensland, you are required to have a Commercial Harvesting Wildlife Licence that is issued by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. This demonstrates that the wood was harvested legally. If you are not the harvester and buying wood to export, you are still required to have a copy of the Commercial Harvesting Wildlife Licence. When you buy the wood, you must obtain a certified copy of the document.
Commercial Wildlife Licence
To sell sandalwood (whole plants or plant parts) harvested under a Commercial Wildlife Harvesting Licence you must hold a Commercial Wildlife Licence (protected plants) issued by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
The department requires 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.
There is in exemption clause in the Queensland legislation that if the sandalwood is going to be used for timber or mulch, you do not need a Commercial Harvesting Wildlife Licence.
Even if you don’t require a Commercial Wildlife Harvesting Licence or a Commercial Wildlife Licence, you are still required to supply documentation that any exemptions are applicable. You are required to provide documented evidence of the source of the sandalwood and clear identification of the physical location from which it was harvested – this could include purchase papers, receipts, statutory declaration or certificates from vendors of sandalwood logs.
Western Australian Sandalwood
To export sandalwood from Western Australia you are required to have:
Forest Produce (sandalwood) Licence
To harvest sandalwood in Western Australia you are required to have a Forest Produce (Sandalwood) Licence issued by the Western Australian Government Department of Environment and Conservation. This is required to satisfy the department that the wood was harvested legally. If you are not the harvester and are buying wood to export, you are still required to have a copy of the Forest Produce (Sandalwood) Licence. When you buy the wood, you should also obtain a photocopy of the licence as you will be required to supply this as part of your application.
Commercial Producer's Licence
Protected flora may only be taken from private property by the owner or occupier of the land or by a person who has the owner or occupier’s permission. Protected flora taken from private property, whether it be harvested from natural or cultivated stands, may only be sold under a Commercial Producer’s Licence.
The department requires documentation of sale to be satisfied 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.
You do not require an export licence for plantation softwood, unless the wood is sourced from Queensland.
Non–native Pine (such as Radiata 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. You will require a Commercial Harvesting Wildlife Licence and a Commercial Wildlife Licence.
The Queensland Government has further information on wildlife permits and licences.
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 or the state requirements.
The clearing of native vegetation in Queensland is regulated by the Vegetation Management Act 1999. The Act sets down the rules and regulations that guide what clearing can be done, and how it must be done to meet the requirements of the law.
The Act regulates clearing of remnant vegetation on a regional ecosystem and remnant map on freehold and indigenous land and state tenures. Regulated regrowth vegetation on freehold and indigenous land and leasehold land for agricultural and grazing is also protected. On some state tenures native woody regrowth may also be protected. Further information is available from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP).
To conduct a native forest practice on freehold land you must submit a Notice of Forest Practice to the Queensland EHP. Once you have done this and satisfied the EHP's requirements, the EHP will issue you with an approval stand and an identifier number.
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 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 Hertitage NSW at 'Native vegetation management'.
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. 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 and the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs) and planning schemes set out controls for the protection of native vegetation. Victoria’s 'Native Vegetation Management – A Framework for action' was released in 2002 and was incorporated into Victoria's State Planning Policy Framework section of the VPPs in 2003. It was developed to implement the objectives of Victoria’s Biodiversity Strategy and the Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2030.
Further information is available from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment at 'Native Vegetation – Victorian Planning Provision Practice Notes'.
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.
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.
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.
There are two types of clearing permits – an area permit and a purpose permit. An area permit applies to clearing a defined area of land, where the applicant is the owner of the land to be cleared, or is acting on the owner’s behalf. A purpose permit applies to clearing of a number of different areas from time to time for a specified purpose, or where the applicant is not the owner. An area permit applies for a default period of two years, while a purpose permit applies for a default period of five years although these can be varied by agreement, or extended through an amendment to the permit.
Further information is available from the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation.
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.
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 for a licence to export hardwood PDF [322 KB]
Application for a licence to export hardwood Word [263 KB]
- Application for a licence to export softwood from Queensland PDF [381 KB]
Application for a licence to export softwood from Queensland Word [264 KB]
- Application for a licence to export Sandalwood from Western Australia PDF [301 KB]
Application for a licence to export Sandalwood from Western Australia Word [262 KB]
- Application for a licence to export Sandalwood from Queensland PDF [336 KB]
Application for a licence to export Sandalwood from Queensland Word [262 KB]
Further information can be obtained from the Export Licensing Officer at:
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
Frequently Asked Questions – General
What legislation are export licences issued under?
The Export Control Act 1982 has a number of regulations covering wood export licensing:
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 Wales – Office of Environment and Heritage
Victoria – Department of Sustainability and Environment
Queensland – Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
South Australia – Department of Primary Industries and Resources SA
Western Australia – Department of Environment and Conservation
Tasmania – Forest Practices Authority
Australian Capital Territory – Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate
Northern Territory - Department of Land Resource Management
Frequently Asked Questions – Sandalwood
How do I claim the exemption under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992?
If you are claiming the exemption for Queensland sandalwood, please contact the Export Licensing Officer.
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.
18 Oct 2013