The future of Western Australia's sandalwood industry has been strengthened following the passing of key legislation focused on conserving the State's natural assets.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides for the repeal of the Wildlife Conservation and Sandalwood Acts, replaced by modern and innovative laws to better protect the sandalwood resource and industry.
Forestry Minister Mia Davies said the legislative overhaul would increase maximum penalties for individuals illegally harvesting and stealing sandalwood from $200 to $200,000, and corporations found guilty of illegal sandalwood activity now faced fines of up to $1 million.
"The sandalwood industry is an important component of the State's forestry strategy, providing opportunities for WA's regional and Aboriginal communities," she said.
"Significantly increased penalties better reflect the sandalwood's value and will deter those who pose a risk to the industry's viability by stealing this valuable State resource."
Ms Davies said the new laws supported implementation of a legality verification process that would allow marketplace sandalwood products to be traced to the point of harvest.
"This system will significantly increase transparency and provide plantation and wild sandalwood harvesters, processors and customers with confidence that the harvest is lawful," she said.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said safeguards were required against the lucrative sandalwood black market.
"These new laws will ensure the sandalwood industry is sustainable and will give the community increased confidence that this valuable resource is being well managed," Mr Jacob said.
Ms Davies said that following the parliamentary inquiry into the sandalwood industry, which had identified the extent of illegal activity, the Liberal National Government had committed to taking the necessary steps to sustain and protect the industry.
It is anticipated repeals of the Wildlife Conservation and Sandalwood Acts will occur in 2017, once the new regulations necessary to give full effect to the Biodiversity Conservation Act's wild sandalwood approvals system have been established.
Forestry Minister's office - 6552 5500
Environment Minister's office - 6552 5800