Retailers in the U.S. have stopped selling hardwood flooring that may have been illegally logged

A logging road in Papua New Guinea’s Pomio District, East New Britain Province. Photo credit: Global Witness

When Global Witness released a report detailing the link between exotic wood flooring and illegal logging in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) tropical forests, major retailers in the United States (U.S.) suspended their sales of the wood in question, according to environmental news site, Mongabay.

The report from Global Witness contained an investigation of the value chain from PNG to factories in China, and all the way to retail stores in the U.S., and found that as much as 30 per cent of the timber exported from the nation located in the South Pacific was from logging companies who harvested the trees in violation of rights due to the local communities under the law of the country.

“Papua New Guinea’s government has illegally handed over vast tracts of indigenous land to logging companies, who are gutting virgin rainforests at breakneck speed,” Rick Jacobson, a campaign leader from Global Witness, said in a released statement. “Responsible companies should not be dealing in this wood.”

Most of the timber PNG produces is sent to China, where they are transformed into plywood, furniture, and flooring, among others, and though smaller amounts are exported to Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan, majority of the hardwood flooring is sold in China, save US$15 billion worth of the products, which the U.S. buys annually – and more than any other nation.

“Our investigation found that certain American and Chinese companies were selling this flooring without taking the necessary steps to ensure it was legal, despite a U.S. ban on the trade in illegal timber under the Lacey Act,” The authors detailed in the report.

The Lacey Act, a law passed in 1900 to freeze the trade of wildlife illegally, was then amended in 2008 to include the trade of wood and plant products produced illegally.


Source: Global Witness, Mongabay