WASHINGTON - An eclectic cast of non-profit environmental organizations, industry trade associations, global retailers and more have signed on as founding members of the Forest Legality Alliance, a group pledged to combat illegal logging.

In its press release, the alliance  said its mission is "to support private sector efforts and policies to reduce trade in illegally harvested wood."

Founding members of the alliance include: the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA-U.S.), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the American Forest & Paper Association, the Hardwood Federation, IKEA, the International Wood Products Association, NewPage Corp., the Retail Industry Leaders’ Association, Staples Inc. and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. EIA and USAID are members of the World Resources Institute.

“Some companies are not aware of the need to ask questions about the wood they are buying or the consequences of letting illegal wood enter their supply chains,” said Craig Hanson, director of WRI’s People and Ecosystems Program. “The Alliance seeks to build confidence that imported wood and paper products are legal. Done right, trade supports environmental protection and the Alliance recognizes the role trade plays in protecting our world’s great forests.”

Whereas responsible forest management delivers renewable raw material for a wide range of products, provides a livelihood for millions of people and contributes to preserving biodiverstiy, the alliance stated, "In many regions, however, illegal logging is having unsustainable impacts. Much of the illegal logging taking place is directly connected to land conversion activities, for instance, when forests are cleared to make room for agriculture and ranching activities. This illegal logging contributes to deforestation, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions, deprives nations of much needed public revenue, and can lead to social conflict and human rights violations."

“From musical instruments to textbooks, legislation in the United States and abroad is fundamentally changing how wood and everything that is made from wood is traded and produced,” said Sascha von Bismarck, executive director of EIA in Washington, DC. “Suppliers unaware of these emerging policies could face financial repercussions in addition to reputational risk. The alliance will work to provide businesses and civil society groups the information they need to avoid risks and create change in the worlds’ forests.”

Alliance plans include:

  • Ensure importers and supply chains know and understand the emerging new trade policies;
  • Develop new online resources that help companies assess the risk of encountering illegal wood, conduct due care and complete import declarations;
  • Work with suppliers to document best practices and unforeseen challenges associated with purchasing legal wood and complying with import regulations.
  • Focus on the capacity for legal trade in the sector as a whole, rather than on the performance of individual companies, and complement existing initiatives that certify legality and sustainability.

Read the Forest Legality Alliance's press release.

Read IWPA's McClendon lauds Forest Legality Alliance creation.

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