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2013 Assessment Findings

The United States has continued to be engaged on the issue of illegal logging, with some positive results. The Lacey Act amendments in 2008 have influenced behaviour within the industry and high-profile enforcement cases have increased awareness of the issue.

The impact of the Lacey Act on levels of illegal imports into the US is less clear. The proportion of imports of illegal timber-sector products is estimated to have declined since 2010, while that of paper-sector products has stayed at about the same level: in 2013, illegal imports were estimated to comprise five per cent and two per cent of the totals respectively.

The Lacey Act is an important piece of legislation for tackling the trade in illegal timber, although there have been several implementation and enforcement challenges, in particular the interpretation of ‘due care’. Further improvements to the procedure for processing import declaration forms are also required to ensure effective enforcement of the act. In order to effectively tackle illegal logging and the related trade, the US government should also continue to encourage its trading partners to strengthen their forest governance.

2010 Assessment Findings

In 2010 it was estimated that US imports of illegally-sourced wood products had almost doubled between 2000 and 2006, driven by the growth of wood furniture imports from China. Imports fell in the following two years, due in part to the economic recession and because of reductions in illegal logging in producer countries. Over three quarters of illegal imports were from third-party processing countries, this presenting a significant challenge to efforts to monitor supply chains and assess legality.

The response of the US government to the issue of illegal logging had initially focused on producer countries, but subsequently also addressed its role as a consumer country. In 2008 it became the first country to introduce legislation prohibiting the import and sale of illegally-sourced wood with the amendment of the Lacey Act. The impact of this was being felt in the US and in producer countries in 2010.

There had been rapid growth in the number of companies with chain-of-custody certification in the period 2006 to 2009; the strongest growth was in 2008, the year that the Lacey Act amendment came into effect.