There’s been a lot of attention in the news lately about the enforcement of standards for hardwood flooring. Illegal logging is just one of many problems facing the exotic hardwood floor market. Reducing it supports green building and infrastructure efforts.
There are several domestic standards regarding the sources of imported wood. These standards are important to uphold because they allow you to be sure that the flooring you install isn’t coming from places where wildlife and their habitats are endangered.
We’re going to take a look at what some of these laws and standards mean and how they protect you — the contractor — as well as your clients. We’ll also discuss some of the organizations dedicated to fighting illegal logging.
The problems of deforestation and illegal logging
Illegal logging refers to the process of cutting down trees in violation of local laws, including laws protecting areas that are home to endangered wildlife. Illegal logging has reached a peak within the past several years, leading to high levels of deforestation.
Between August 2003 and 2004, an all-time high of around 11,800 square miles were deforested in the Amazon, mostly due to illegal logging. This brought the problem to a head.
Besides the practice of illegal logging itself, lack of oversight here in the United States has contributed to the problem. Manufacturers will often import wood into the U.S. without verifying that it came from a legal source.
Forests around the world desperately need to be preserved and protected from illegal logging, and it’s especially important to make sure that the wood we use here in the United States has been ethically sourced. Hardwood floors are in high demand in this country, which contributes to the demand for wood regardless of its legality.
Luckily, there are standards in place to cut down on products of illegal logging, and several organizations that make sure these standards are adhered to.
Laws about illegal logging
The Lacey Act is one U.S. law that helps crack down on illegal logging. The Act was passed in 1900 to prohibit the sale of illegally acquired fish, plants, and wildlife. Its original purpose was to prevent poaching, but the Lacey Act has since undergone an important change.
In 2008, the Lacey Act was amended to apply to a wider range of plants, and it now helps to prevent people from importing illegally sourced wood into the United States and selling it.
Since the 2008 amendment, companies and individuals importing major shipments of wood into the country must document the species and country of origin. They must also make an effort to ensure that the wood has been sourced legally.
Organizations fighting illegal logging and promoting green building
It’s one thing to pass a law. Enforcement is another ordeal altogether. Luckily, there are quite a few organizations working to make sure that regulations regarding timber and wood imports are followed. One organization that you’ve probably heard of is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
The FSC is dedicated to ensuring that wood products are sustainably sourced. They are also committed to other causes, like making sure that workers’ rights are upheld on jobsites and that indigenous peoples are protected from illegal logging.
FSC-approved products are stamped with the FSC Chain of Custody certification. This system helps customers choose products that support responsible harvesting practices and sustainable forest management.
FSC-certified products can contribute LEED credits to your projects. Plus, the fact that the wood you’re using is sourced from sustainable forests will make some of your more environmentally-minded clients happy.
Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency are just two of many other organizations dedicated to preventing the sale of illegally sourced wood. As part of this ongoing effort, they conduct investigations to verify that wood being shipped into the United States is coming from legal sources.
There are also many replanting projects in the U.S. aimed at preserving forests. Many forest managers also replant a tree after it’s been cut down to be milled. These efforts support sustainable forestry and ensure that our forests will thrive for generations to come.
We’re proud to be a part of the FSC and to sell FSC-certified products. This protects you — the contractor — and your clients because you know that the wood you’re using has been ethically sourced.
How can you do your part as a contractor? It’s simple: Make sure that your wood is coming from a legal, ethical source. It doesn’t seem like much, but you’ll be doing a lot to help cut down on illegal logging and to preserve forests around the world.