The Lacey Act
Wood products can be sourced illegally in many ways. Trees can be cut illegally by logging without a valid permit, logging within protected areas, removing more trees than allowed by a logging permit, logging beyond the boundaries of a permit, or logging protected species.6 In many cases, illegal logging is organized by criminal enterprises and involves bribing local officials, ignoring laws, and using violence to access trees that would otherwise be off-limits.
Around the world, illegally harvested timber reaches international markets by being laundered, using an array of tactics. Often times, documents are falsified and illegally harvested timber is matched with legal logging permits. In some instances illegally harvested wood makes it to market by bribing officials and avoiding taxes and fees.
The Lacey Act is a landmark conservation law, signed by President McKinley in 1900, that prohibits the trade of plants and wildlife that have been illegally taken, transported, or possessed. The law was initially intended to prevent the poaching of game and birds taken in one state and sold in another. In 2008 the Lacey Act was amended to broaden protections for a wide range of plants, including trees and plants in countries outside the United States. Championed by Senator Wyden (D-OR), these amendments were supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition of interests, including much of the domestic wood products industry, labor unions, and environmental organizations.