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Commemorating Ten Years Combatting Illicit Timber Trade and Forest Crime

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the 2008 U.S. Lacey Act Amendments – landmark legislation aimed at halting the destructive and criminal practice of illegal logging. The 2008 amendment to the century-old Lacey Act expanded coverage to plants, including the harvest and trade of stolen timber. The legislation represented not only a huge step forward for protecting the environment, it also leveled the playing field for U.S. businesses aiming to play by the rules, which were losing market share to underpriced and plentiful illicit timber, often emanating from criminal enterprises overseas.

The 2008 Lacey Act amendment, passed with strong bipartisan support, was the first of its kind, pioneering the concept of due diligence and traceability in the global timber trade. An unprecedented coalition of industry stakeholders, environmental organizations, and labor unions all supported passage of the amendments in 2008, and continue to press for effective implementation and enforcement. Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer and Senator Ron Wyden, original sponsors of Lacey Amendment legislation, hosted an event to mark the anniversary and remain strong and principled champions for strategic, well-funded implementation and enforcement of the law ten years later.

Since then, other countries and regions – including the EU, Australia, Japan and, most recently, Mexico – have passed similar legislation refusing the entry of stolen wood into their markets. These are essential steps to transform the global timber trade and ensure that illegal timber and wood products are also not welcome in key consuming countries.

Today, as we celebrate the early successes of the Lacey Act amendments, we also recognize there is more to be done. The strongest weapons against global forest crime are transparent, traceable supply chains and publicly available trade and harvest data. In order to effectively break the chains of secret criminal trade, however, more transparency, compliance and enforcement is needed. And the principles that underlie the Lacey Act approach should also be considered as we look at various commodities (such as oil palm, beef, soy and cacao) that are driving wide-scale deforestation, often through illegal means and at the expense of local and indigenous community rights as well as local biodiversity and important ecosystems.

We should all be asking, where did this product come from and have that information available to make consumer choices that support the future of the forests and the sustainability of law-abiding companies.

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