WWF Welcomes House Committee Approval of Legal Timber Protection Act to Protect U.S. Industry and Save Global Forests | WWF

WWF Welcomes House Committee Approval of Legal Timber Protection Act to Protect U.S. Industry and Save Global Forests

Posted on 09 November 2007

Washington - World Wildlife Fund applauded the Committee on Natural Resources of the US House of Representatives for approving H.R. 1497, the Legal Timber Protection Act, which would make it a crime to knowingly import, sell, buy or transport illegally-sourced wood products and enable U.S. enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal timber traffickers.

WWF officials commended the leadership of House Natural Resources Committee Chair Nick Rahall (D-WV) and expressed appreciation to the members of the committee, including Congressman Henry Brown (R-SC), for unanimously approving the bill on November 7. Introduced by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jerry Weller (R-IL) and Robert Wexler (D-FL), the bill had a total of 46 co-sponsors going into the committee meeting with support from a broad industry, labor and environmental coalition.

"The Legal Timber Protection Act sends a strong signal to world markets that the United States will not accept illegally harvested wood products" said Jason Patlis, WWF's vice president and managing director of U.S.
government relations. "The Legal Timber Protection Act will also help ensure that American consumers do not unwittingly support destructive illegal logging in some of the most biologically important forests in the world."

To date, there have been 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 this illegal wood. Thus, the wood products industry in the US must compete in the global market against artificially cheap forest products made from illegally sourced wood.

"Illegal logging costs the U.S. forest products industry an estimated $1 billion per year in depressed prices and reduced exports, and continues to contribute to the loss of American jobs," said Bruce Cabarle, managing
director of WWF's global forestry program.

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. WWF and TRAFFIC also submitted written testimony in support of the bill at an October 16th hearing before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the House Natural Resources Committee.

WWF works actively to stop destruction of forests in the Amazon, Borneo and Sumatra, the Congo Basin, the greater Mekong and the Russian Far East.

"Illegal logging in my country - driven in part by strong US demand for imported wood products - endangers critical tiger and leopard habitat and is undermining sustainable forestry in Russia," said Dr Igor Chestin, CEO
of WWF-Russia.

In the US Senate, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lamar Alexander (D-TN) co-sponsored a similar bill to H.R. 1497, the Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007, S. 1930, and this week, offered the language as an amendment (S.A. 3502) to the farm bill.

"WWF hopes the strong signal sent by the unanimous approval of this legislation by the House Natural Resources Committee, will encourage expeditious floor consideration in the House, as well as approval in the
Senate" Patlis said.

About World Wildlife Fund:
For more than 45 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The largest multinational conservation organization in the world, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United
States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level, from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature. Go to worldwildlife.org to learn more.