A prominent group of scientists have published a report that claims the Lacey Act legislation curbs deforestation and enhances the competitiveness of US logging and wood processing industries. The new report urges Congress to leave the law alone and provide enough money to enforce it.
The report was released on April 16, by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), it is titled “Logging and the Law: How the U.S. Lacey Act Helps Reduce Illegal Logging in the Tropics. ” The report outlines how illegal logging poses a significant threat to the US economy and endangers tropical ecosystems around the world.
Changes to the Lacey Act could cost the US wood industry millions as well as lead to job losses. The report states that removing penalties for companies that illegally import foreign wood would hurt domestic loggers and processors. That’s why a number of large companies and groups oppose illegal wood products.
“Congress can sustain the U.S. wood industry, reduce destructive logging practices, and help Americans make sustainable consumer choices by supporting and funding implementation of the Lacey Act,” the report says.
“Lawmakers must preserve the Lacey Act because it closes the entire U.S. timber market to illegally sourced wood – an approach to stopping illegal logging that’s supported by economic research,” said Pipa Elias, UCS consultant and author of the report. “The law ensures that the U.S. wood industry isn’t undercut by cheap, illegally harvested wood.”
“You really need to affect the incentives for illegal logging in order to reduce it, and the incentive is that people are going to buy that product,” Elias said. “So anything that would ultimately … continue to allow people to buy an illegal product wouldn’t really create that market change that the research has shown can be effective.”
Putting an end to illegal logging is widely supported by industry groups. Organizations like the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Wood Flooring Association, Home Depot and Lowe’s all support policies to stop illegal logging. Companies can now turn to wood certification to ensure the wood they are sourcing is sustainable.
“The Lacey Act should remain in place as is,” said Elias. “It protects the U.S. wood industry, the U.S. economy, as well as tropical forests.”
In addition to harming U.S. businesses, the report shows that illegal logging causes significant damage to tropical forests by reducing biodiversity, destroying soil, damaging trees and releasing carbon dioxide that contributes to global climate change. Every year illegal logging contributes to tropical forest loss, which in total is roughly the size of Pennsylvania.
To download “How the U.S. Lacey Act Helps Reduce Illegal Logging in the Tropics,” click here.