Research and data on forest commodity supply chains and policy

Environmental NGO’s and the U.S. timber industry published a document titled, Joint Recommendations to Halt the Illegal Timber Trade: Utilize the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008.

Their case for further enforcement of the Lacey Act is made around a gross misrepresentation, if not fraudulent one, of a speculative analysis.

The Lacey Act did not reduce illegal timber imports by 32-44%

The industry-NGO document reads:

“Implementation and enforcement of the 2008 [Lacey Act] amendments have helped to reduce the flow of illegal timber into the U.S. by 32%–44%, according to a 2015 analysis.”

While the industry-NGO document does not include a source for this data, it’s presumably from the following analysis published in 2015 by the Union of Concerned Scientisists – The Lacey Act’s Effectiveness in Reducing Illegal Wood Imports.

The analysis estimates that imports of illegally sourced wood products declined 32-44% between the years 2007 and 2013. Regarding this estimate, the study states:

“It is impossible to say precisely what part Lacey played in this decline, but the available evidence suggests that, although other effects were also important (most importantly, reduced U.S. housing construction and constraints on additional supply growth from high-risk countries to China), Lacey did play a role.”

The industry-NGO document grossly misrepresents the claim made by the Union of Concerned Scientists by stating that the Lacey Act helped to reduce the flow of illegal timber into the U.S. by 32%–44%.

The Union of Concerned Scientists only claim evidence “suggests” the Lacey Act “played a role”. (And this is questionable. The analysis never even measured illegal wood flows, but only the change in all imports from ‘high-risk’ countries from 2007-2013).

Whether this misrepresentation by the industry and NGO’s is intentional, or just negligence, this document maybe better illustrates how the U.S. timber industry and environmental groups join forces to use the Lacey Act not to protect forests, but as a means to protect markets for industry and generate business opportunities for NGOs.


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