US Senate Passes Legislation to Prevent Imports of Illegal Wood
From WWF US: Washington, D.C – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commends the Senate for including Senator Wyden and Senator Alexander’s “Combat Illegal Logging Act” language within the manager’s amendment to the Farm Bill, which passed by a vote of 79-14 on December 14.
The amendment makes it a crime to knowingly import, sell, buy or transport illegally-sourced wood products, and enables U.S. enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal timber traffickers.
“WWF applauds Senators Wyden and Alexander’s leadership in promoting this legislation and Senator Harkin for including this in his manager’s amendment of the Farm Bill,” says Jason Patlis, WWF vice president of government relations.
The Wyden-Alexander amendment had support from a broad industry, labor and environmental coalition which enabled it to be deemed relatively “noncontroversial” on the Senate floor and thus eligible for inclusion in Senator Harkin’s Farm Bill manager’s amendment.
To date, the U.S. has no laws to prevent illegally harvested wood from entering the U.S. marketplace and few regulatory mechanisms to enable the responsible consumer to identify products that might be tainted by illegal wood.
This victory comes on the heels of the recent unanimous passing by the House Committee on Natural Resources of a similar bill, the Legal Timber Protection Act, introduced by Congressmen Blumenauer (D-OR), Weller (R-IL), and Wexler (D-FL).
"Legislation to ban import of illegally sourced wood products will help level the playing field for those companies committed to ensuring that their purchases of forest products support legal and responsible sourcing, like members of WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network," said Bruce Cabarle, WWF's managing director of the global forest program.
The Global Forest & Trade Network is a WWF initiative to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests by facilitating trade links between companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry. WWF, Traffic and the North American Forest & Trade Network worked closely together for the Legal Timber Protection Act, partnering with such responsible forest product companies as Wood Flooring International.
“This legislation will have an enormous impact on saving fast-disappearing forests around the world because the law can now act strongly against the illegal trade in timber,” said Darron Collins, WWF’s managing director for Amur-Heilong. “It will also empower U.S. consumers to make a more informed choice that will directly benefit nature.”
WWF’s efforts focus on the protection, management and restoration of the world's most important forests by identifying threats and developing solutions. We work internationally, regionally, and locally with a wide range of partners, combining fieldwork and coordination at governing levels to develop policy and influence market behavior to help ensure a sustainable future for forests.