The illegal logging trade steals valuable natural resources and undercuts companies' profitability. That's why businesses and governments are turning to new technology applications to expose illicitly harvested lumber.
Blog Posts: lacey act
The largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States is charged with importing illegally harvested timber from areas including forests in far eastern Russia.
Resource-strapped law enforcement agencies and companies with complex supply chains struggle to curb illegally sourced wood. That's where DNA analysis and other advanced technologies can play a role.
A wood buyer from Washington State and his lumber mill, J&L Tonewoods, were indicted last week on charges of purchasing illegally harvested big leaf maples from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in violation of the Lacey Act. The act bans illegal wildlife trafficking, and the seven counts of the indictment are the first alleging violations within the United States.
Illegal logging drives deforestation in many countries, robbing national governments and local communities of valuable income and contributing to global biodiversity loss and climate change. Apart from its environmental and economic damage, illegal logging can fuel corruption, and is sometimes linked to organized crime and violent social conflict.
A new guide, Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Business, provides four actions companies can take to source legal wood. The guide aims to help companies avoid illicit logging in their supply chains—both for the good of the world’s forests and their own bottom lines.
A recent incident at Lumber Liquidators highlights how alleged ties to illegally harvested woods can negatively impact business. Moreover, it shows that the U.S. Lacey Act—which bans trafficking of illegally sourced wood and paper products—is continuing to crack down on suspected illicit activity. It’s important that companies take note—and take action.
Brazil is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. What is less known is that the country is the fourth largest industrial roundwood (timber left as logs, not sawn into planks) and wood pulp producer and ninth largest paper producer in the world. Brazil’s forest sector contributed 5 percent to the national gross domestic product in 2012. Brazil’s forests are not only home to communities and a haven for biodiversity, they are also part of the country’s economic backbone.
Brazil’s government has made impressive progress towards balancing forest protection and production. In 2012, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped to its lowest rate in more than two decades. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has pioneered the use of satellite data to prevent illegal logging. And the forest sector uses the Forest Source Document system (Documento de Origem Florestal, DOF), a sophisticated electronic system to track the wood flow throughout the supply chain.
Despite these positive steps, illegal logging and associated trade in the Amazon continues. Beyond the negative social and environmental impacts, illegal logging poses a serious problem for businesses producing legal wood products. With a price difference of up to 40 percent, legal wood simply cannot compete with cheaper illegal wood.
To reduce illegal logging and support the legal actors in the forest sector, Brazil must strengthen its forest control systems and policies.
The global market for wood and other forest products is changing quickly. The industry has long struggled to address the problem of illegal logging, which damages diverse and valuable forests and creates economic losses of up to $10 billion a year. In some wood-producing countries, illegal logging accounts for 50-90 percent of total production.
But recent developments indicate that we may be turning a corner: Illegal logging rates worldwide have declined by about 20 percent since 2008.
This was the topic on everyone’s minds at the recent Forest Legality Alliance meeting in Washington, D.C. This meeting brought together nearly 100 members and experts representing a wide array of companies, trade associations, NGOs, and governments involved in the harvest, manufacturing, and trade of legally produced forest products.
This post was co-authored with Carita Chan, an intern with WRI's forests initiative.
As the crisis of tropical deforestation reaches a new level of urgency due to forest fires raging in Indonesia, an important question is how can the world satisfy the growing demand for forest products while still preserving forest ecosystems? This week, some of the world’s largest companies will join U.S. and Indonesian government officials in Jakarta at the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) meeting to discuss this issue.
The meeting comes three years after the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a group of the world’s 400 largest consumer goods companies from 70 countries, announced their commitment to source only deforestation-free commodities in their supply chains and help achieve net-zero deforestation by 2020. The TFA 2020, a public-private partnership established in 2012 at the Rio+20 Summit, aims to provide concrete guidance on how to implement the forum’s pledge.
As the old adage suggests, it is important to see the forests for more than just the trees. While an estimated 500 million people depend directly on forests for their livelihoods, the entire world depends on them for food, water, clean air, and vital medicines. Forests also absorb carbon dioxide, making them critical to curbing climate change.
Despite some encouraging anti-deforestation efforts in places like Brazil, Indonesia, and Africa, globally, forests are under threat, particularly in the tropics. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly 13 million hectares of forests were lost every year. About 30 percent of the global forest cover has been completely cleared, and 20 percent has been degraded.
This dilemma begs the question: What is the outlook for forests in 2030? Are we missing the opportunity to preserve forests and ensure they continue to deliver the goods and services we need for a growing global population? How can we use forests to build a thriving global green economy?
Asking these questions is important. Finding answers to the challenges they raise is imperative.
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