This publication updates the 2014 version of Sourcing Legally Produced Wood, which provided information on illegal logging and associated trade, public and private procurement policies, export country logging and log export bans, and introductory guidance to the wood products legality legislation in the United States, the EU, and Australia.

Key Findings

  • Combatting Illegal logging is important for protecting and managing forests and biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting economic development, and improving governance.
  • Major international markets have established regulatory frameworks and requirements on the legality of timber: the United States’ 2008 Lacey Act Amendment; the 2012 Australia Illegal Logging Prohibition Act (AILPA); and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came into effect in 2013. These laws require businesses to take steps to ensure their forest products are legal.
  • This 2018 version of Sourcing Legally Produced Wood updates and expands information on the implementation of the U.S., EU, and Australian policies and laws; updates the logging and log export ban table; updates the timber species listed in the Appendices to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and offers expanded context and information on the issue of illegal logging and associated trade.
  • Legality is not synonymous with sustainability: what is sustainable may not always be legal, and what is legal may not always be sustainable.

Executive Summary

Illegal logging is a direct cause of forest degradation and often contributes to deforestation. It also undermines global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, impedes economic development, and poses challenges to local governance (Barber and Canby 2018).

In response, countries have developed national laws and regulations to combat illegal logging and associated trade. In 2008, the U.S. Government enacted a law that prohibited the import or trade of illegal timber and required companies to assess and manage the risk of introducing illegal wood products into their supply chains. Similar legislation in Australia came into effect in 2012, and analogous regulations entered into force in the European Union in 2013.In addition, the European Union has been negotiating bilateral voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with timber producing countries since 2005 to improve forest governance and reduce illegal timber in supply chains.

Responses to Illegal Logging

There is no universally accepted definition of “illegal logging and associated trade.” This guide adopts a broad definition of the term to include all practices related to the harvesting, processing, transport, sale, and purchase of timber, as defined in the country of origin, as well as any violations of a country’s legal framework that may occur throughout the supply chain.

The amended Lacey Act, EUTR, and AILPA are examples of how demand-side trade regulations could help combat illegal logging and associated trade. Businesses now need to be intimately familiar with the legal framework for timber harvesting, processing, and exporting for all countries throughout their supply chains. The guide provides a detailed overview of the requirements, product scope, compliance, and penalties of these three trade regulations.

Public and private procurement policies are alternative approaches to address the legality and sustainability of timber in supply chains. Public procurement policies send a signal to the private sector to meet the requirements on legality and sustainability in their production. Private procurement policies help to integrate responsible sourcing into a company’s overall sustainability program. Industry associations also play a role in requiring their members to remove illegal timber from their supply chains through their codes of conduct, industry statements, and association standards.

Resources for Businesses

Forest management certification and legality verification services can help mitigate the risk of illegality in the supply chain but cannot and do not guarantee that certified products are legal. Forest management certification bodies have incorporated the legality of forest operations and wood products into their standards. Achieving certification often involves contracting an independent, third-party commercial actor that verifies the legality of the product against a set of criteria and relevant indicators. Many commercial legality verification services have emerged to focus solely on timber legality. Such systems often include chain-of-custody criteria to trace the flow of products through supply chains and to ensure that verified products are handled separately from nonverified products.

Many civil society organizations have developed materials on forest legality requirements and on the context of these requirements in producer countries. These materials include forest legality frameworks and legality checklists to help identify relevant laws that producers must comply with to meet requirements of legality-sensitive wood products markets.