The causes of illegal logging are varied and complex. For many decades, part of the reason why illegal logging and associated trade continued was that consumers did not - and usually could not - distinguish between legally and illegally sourced forest products. This is now changing, as a number of consumer countries take steps to encourage the trade of legal wood and to support the enforcement of forest laws in wood-producing countries.
These initiatives take different approaches to illegal wood, but they all share the same aim: to shift consumer demand, and thus production, to legal forest products through the power of market access and potential penalties. Major consumer-side laws related to illegal logging and associated trade include the plant provisions of the U.S. Lacey Act, the EU Timber Regulation, and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.
Additional measures include national-level trade agreements (increasingly an important element of bilateral trade negotiations) and public procurement policies. Currently mostly found in the European Union, such procurement policies typically require government purchasers of forest products to treat certified or legally verified products preferentially when making buying decisions.