About the Initiative

Timber and paper are among the world’s most commonly used and traded commodities. Responsible forest management delivers renewable raw material for a wide range of products, provides livelihood for millions of people and contributes to preserving biodiversity. In many regions, however, illegal logging has devastating impacts. It 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.

To address these challenges, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Forest Legality Alliance (FLA) in 2010. The Alliance was an international, multi-stakeholder initiative designed to achieve better forest governance and biodiversity conservation by reducing demand for illegally harvested forest products and increasing the capacity of supply chains to deliver legal wood and paper. Over the course of several years, the FLA engaged with key partners from the forest products industry, government agencies, and civil society to steer the conversation away from whether the Lacey Act Amendment should be gutted, repealed, or replaced, to a conversation that instead focused on how businesses could reduce their risk of running afoul of the new law. 

In 2016, the Forest Legality Alliance transitioned into the Forest Legality Initiative (FLI). The accomplishments of the Alliance have laid an excellent foundation for WRI’s continued work to combat illegal logging. The FLI, building off of the experience gathered in many years of hosting the Alliance, continues to educate supply chain actors about new policies and technologies for increasing transparency in supply chains, and equips them with tools and resources for exercising due care and keeping illegally harvested forest products out of the market. While the formal membership model of the FLA ended with the transition, the FLI continues to work in close partnership with many of the FLA’s former members. To find an overview of the FLA, click here. For more information on the FLA’s previous work, please visit the Document Library.*

*All items preceding the summary of the final FLA meeting are products of the original Alliance. 

Illegal Logging

Illegal logging and trade in associated products can take many forms, from cutting valuable trees in a national park to avoiding taxes and fees. Its negative effects are felt along the entire supply chain. Trade in illegal forest products degrades natural forests, reducing biodiversity and harming local communities. It supports corrupt and criminal activities, undermines the rule of law, and reduces government revenues.

For companies that trade in forest products, illegal logging produces an uneven playing field and harms the reputation of the forest sector and of wood as a sustainable raw material.