Laws & Policies

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.

  • Australia introduced its Illegal Logging Prohibition Act in 2012. Its legislative ban on illegally sourced wood products is operational, while detailed regulations governing the Australian due diligence approach went into effect in November 2014.

  • The EU Timber Regulation (Regulation No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010) was approved by the European Parliament and Council in 2010. It entered into force on March 3, 2013 and prohibits the placing of illegally sourced wood products on the European market.

  • The Lacey Act is a 1900 United States law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife. In 2008, the Act was amended to include plants and plant products such as timber and paper. The landmark legislation entered into effect in May 2008 and was the world’s first ban on trade in illegally sourced wood products.