News Analysis

Illegal Timber Trade Targeted by New Law

The Lacey Act bolsters other federal, state, and foreign laws regulating trade in flora and fauna, and will be enforced by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The law, which goes into effect on November 18, 2008, requires importers to declare the species and country of origin of foreign lumber. Violators of the law face civil and criminal penalties that vary depending in part on whether they are judged to have knowingly traded in illegal material or only failed to take “due care.” Federal authorities are empowered under the act to seize illegal timber even if the parties involved in its possession are not aware of its illegality.

The amendment had the support of such environmental groups as the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and Greenpeace, as well as industry groups such as the American Forest & Paper Association, the Hardwood Federation, and Wood Flooring International. Illegally harvested timber, often from the developing world, drives down the price of lawfully cut U.S. timber; accordingly, U.S. timber and wood-product interests welcome the act as a means of protecting their market share.

Published September 25, 2008

Wilmeth, M. (2008, September 25). Illegal Timber Trade Targeted by New Law. Retrieved from