The most important U.S. policy initiative to reduce illegal logging and its associated trade in recent years is the 2008 Lacey Act amendments. The amendments make it illegal to trade plants and plant products, including wood and paper, harvested or traded in violation of the laws of a foreign country. It also requires importers to file a declaration with the name of the country of harvest and the genus and species of plants contained in their products, although the declaration requirement has yet to be phased in for composite wood products or for pulp and paper.
AF&PA has been a strong proponent of international efforts to suppress illegal logging and trade. AF&PA played an active role in a coalition of forest products industry, environmental and labor groups in advocating for passage of the 2008 amendments, because trade in illegally sourced fiber is a serious detriment to the industry’s sustainability, the environment, and the global economy. An AF&PA commissioned study estimated that illegal logging cost the U.S. forest products industry some $1 billion annually in lost export opportunities and depressed U.S. wood prices.
AF&PA is working closely with a broad consensus coalition that is calling on federal agencies to ensure successful implementation of the law. AF&PA supports adequate funding for the implementation of the Lacey Act and the phase-in of the declaration requirement to imports of composite wood products and pulp and paper.
There is room for improvement in the manner the Lacey Act is being implemented and enforced. AF&PA is on record in support of:
- Clarifying that the Lacey Act amendments do not apply to products imported or manufactured prior to May, 2008
- Clarifying that the Lacey Act should not be enforced against individual consumers
AF&PA opposes changes to the Lacey Act that would undermine the intent and effectiveness of the 2008 amendments by:
- Limiting the application of the import declaration requirement to “solid wood,” excluding pulp, paper, and composite wood imports from the key requirement of the Lacey Act
- Restricting the application of foreign laws only to those directed at the protection, conservation and management of plants, because some countries use other tools such as stumpage fees or export controls for forest management and protection
AF&PA wants to play a constructive role in the process and continues to explore with member companies and coalition partners potential areas for discussion with policymakers.