U.S. Ban on Illegally Sourced Wood

Jonathan Nash, President of the World Resources Institute (WRI), argues that the “most interesting and overlooked” environmental victory of 2008 was the extension of the Lacey Act to cover the U.S. import of illegally sourced plants, including trees, and wood products, such as flooring, furniture, and paper.

According to WRI, illegal logging may make up 8-10 percent of primary wood production. In some places, illegal logging accounts for 50 percent of harvested wood. Given much of these wood products are making their way to the U.S. for use in commercial and residential buildings (the U.S. imports 17 percent of the world’s wood products), a U.S. import ban may have an effect. Research has indicated that 10 percent of current wood product imports are sourced illegally.

Under the amended Lacey Act, forest and plant products imported to the U.S. must include basic declarations on where they originate. Importers are now responsible to exercise “due care” to ensure wood products are sourced legally. The amended Lacey Act can now be used to fight illegal logging, and deforestation in critical tropical forest areas in Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Read the article by Jonathan Nash
Also, check out this report by the Environmental Investigation Agency: No Questions Asked: The Impacts of U.S. Market Demand for Illegal Timber, and the Potential for Change

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