Fighting Illegal Logging for Sustainable Forestry

Jul 26, 2016
Handelsman_Jake-WebBy Jake Handelsman
Senior Director, International Trade

The Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainable forestry goal contains several parts. In 2014, AF&PA members had increased the wood fiber they source from third party certified forestlands to 29 percent, and the wood fiber they procure from certified sourcing programs to 98 percent. The goal also has a component to reduce illegal logging worldwide. 

The U.S. forest products industry is a global leader in the fight against illegal logging.  Our industry is a strong advocate for the 2008 Lacey Act amendments that make it illegal to trade in illegally obtained wood and wood products, and AF&PA considers the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) an important step in the fight against illegal logging and associated trade.  

The TPP provides a unique opportunity for key timber consuming and exporting countries to work together to reduce deforestation, protect endangered species, promote sustainable forestry and combat illegal logging and associated trade.  Illegal logging is a significant environmental challenge in several TPP countries – Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam – as global demand grows for agricultural products, furniture and other wood products.  

The agreement elevates the other TPP countries’ commitments and brings them closer to those in the U.S. by ensuring measures are taken to prevent illegal logging and associated trade. The TPP’s Environment Chapter includes commitments to combat trade in illegally harvested timber, including species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species  of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as any other species taken or harvested illegally, regardless of its source country.  These commitments will be fully enforceable and subject to dispute settlement, including trade sanctions.  Other TPP provisions establish commitments to fighting corruption, which is often a key factor in the failure of countries’ forest governance schemes. 

For these reasons, in addition to the market opening benefits the agreement is expected to provide as a result of the total elimination of tariffs on forest products, AF&PA is working with the broader business coalition for the congressional approval of the TPP agreement.