JUNE 2008

House passes legislation to ban illegal wood trade

The U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation to address the global illegal logging crisis. The law makes the United States the first country in the world to prohibit the import, sale, or trade in illegally-harvested wood and wood products.

The law amends a long-standing wildlife trafficking statute, the Lacey Act, to include timber, wood products and other plants. It has been championed by Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden, both of Oregon, and received strong bipartisan support in both Chambers of Congress. Reconciled language passed with the Farm Bill.

“After more than a year of work with an unprecedented coalition of industry, environmental and union groups, we passed legislation that will help bring an end to the egregious practice of illegal logging,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “Not only does illegal logging threaten some of the world’s richest and most vulnerable forests, it leads to serious human rights violations. It also costs the United States forest products industry over $1 billion every year, including $130 - $150 million to my home state of Oregon. This is a great achievement that will protect the environment, help honest businesses, and prevent rampant corruption both here and abroad.”

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an environmental organization providing expertise to policy makers on illegal logging and associated international trade, estimates that 10% of annual wood product imports into the United States - worth some $3.8 billion dollars - are derived from illegally logged timber.