The unrestricted import of illegally harvested wood products imperils the United States economy, impacting the wood products industry and costing U.S. jobs. In addition, illegal logging is a significant contributor to the deforestation that accounts for approximately 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the practice wreaks havoc on local illegally-logged communities and the environment.
Illegal logging undermines the strength and sustainability of the forest products’ economy both in Indonesia and the United States by distorting global prices of timber, undercutting sustainably manufactured products, and jeopardizing the jobs of U.S. workers. Under current conditions, there is no level playing field. Manufacturers across the U.S. are struggling to compete against imported, illegally harvested low-priced wood and wood products. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the logging, wood, paper and cabinetry industries have lost 242,000 jobs, or roughly 23 percent of its workforce, since 2006. Conservative estimates place U.S. industry losses due to illegal logging-related depressed wood prices and lost exports at over $1 billion.
Illegal Logging in Indonesia: The Environmental, Economic and Social Costs
In 2010, the BlueGreen Alliance joined with the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rainforest Action Network to release an extensive report documenting the environmental, economic and social costs of illegal logging in Indonesia. Read more.
The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners believe that increased transparency and comprehensive law enforcement are crucial to protecting forest ecosystems and creating a level playing field for business. Trade and investment agreements should end demand for and trade in wood products that are illegally and or unsustainably sourced. Trade in products from illegal logging should also be addressed as a trade subsidy and remedied through trade laws.
The U.S. Lacey Act, which prohibits trafficking and sales of illegally sourced wildlife and plants, must be strengthened through the inclusion of highly processed wood products in import declaration requirement schedules and sufficient appropriations to implementing agencies. In addition, a consistent global commitment is necessary to stem the trade of illegally sourced wood products, ensure sustainable growth for local communities, protect forest ecosystems and mitigate climate change. Read more.