Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Illegal Logging Threatens Economies as Well as the Environment

Union of Concerned Scientists

Anti-regulation forces are working to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from enforcing violations of the Lacey Act, the first-ever law prohibiting the trade of products made with illegally logged wood, and pushing members of Congress to overturn the law. If these efforts are successful, the U.S. wood industry could lose millions, be forced to lay off workers, and irreplaceable tropical ecosystems could be threatened. A new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Logging and the Law: How the U.S. Lacey Act Helps Reduce Illegal Logging in the Tropics, outlines how illegal logging poses a significant threat to the U.S economy and endangers tropical ecosystems around the world.

“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.”

Illegal loggers reduce the competitive advantage of legal producers by selling unlawfully cut or stolen wood at artificially low prices. This practice results in trade distortions that decrease prices of legal wood worldwide by about 16 percent.

Many industry groups, including the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Wood Flooring Association, along with Home Depot and Lowe’s support policies to stop illegal logging. In a 2007 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the American Forest & Paper Association noted that illegal logging contributed to mill closures, job cuts and an estimated billion dollars in losses for the wood industry.

Furthermore, the World Bank estimates that illegal logging costs governments and businesses at least $10 billion to $15 billion in losses each year.

“Illegal logging is stealing, at its roots,” said Elias. “And it puts the wood industry in financial jeopardy, which harms the U.S. economy and threatens jobs.”

The report shows that most illegal hardwood comes from tropical forests for use in furniture, cabinets and home décor. The Lacey Act blocks the importation of raw material and products made from illegal wood, eliminating the U.S. market for these products.

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.

“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.”

 For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less