Forest Conservation: Responsible Trade

Combating Illegal Logging and Advancing Responsible Forest Trade

The forest products industry, estimated at $150 billion per year, is global and complex. A tree may be cut in Indonesia, manufactured into a table in China, sold to a retailer in New York, and bought by a business in Florida.

A significant part of this industry harms the world’s forests. Each year, more than 32 million acres of natural forest around the world are logged, often illegally and unsustainably. Much of this wood then enters international markets.

As a result, many consumers in the United States — currently the largest wood products market in the world — unwittingly contribute to environmentally and socially destructive forest practices.

The Nature Conservancy works to improve forest management, strengthen policies affecting forests, and help business and consumers make informed purchasing decisions — actions that collectively can maintain a robust international forest products industry and sustain healthy forests for people and nature.

Responsible Forest Management and Trade across the Supply Chain

Combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable forest management requires changes in policies and practices across the international forest products supply chain, from forest to consumer:

  • Governments must develop and enforce the public policies and incentives that encourage legal and sustainable forest management and transparent trade in forest products.
  • Land managers must comply with legal requirements and implement sustainable forest management practices.
  • Corporations must develop and implement procurement policies that require all products in their supply chains to come from legally and sustainably managed forests.
  • Investors must incorporate legal verification and independent certification of forest management practices into their decision-making.
  • Consumers must make responsible purchasing choices that show demand for legal and sustainable forest products.
Forest Certification

Forest certification is a tool in which forestry planning and operations are evaluated by an independent third party according to standards that balance environmental, social and economic objectives.

While a number of national-level forest certification standards exist, to date the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only global standard that meets the expectations of The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Trade Program

The Nature Conservancy promotes the legal, sustainable and transparent management of forestlands and sourcing of forest products. By working with governments, land managers, corporations, investors and consumers, we seek to build the supply of and the demand for legally verified and FSC-certified forest products.

Our efforts are focused on consumer markets in North America and on those regions of the world that supply the majority of wood and wood-based products of suspicious origin in international trade, including Southeast Asia, the Greater Amazon Basin, Central America, Russia and China

Illegal Logging
  • An estimated 70 percent of Indonesia’s timber exports are illegal, costing the country $3.7 billion a year in lost revenue.
  • Nearly 30 percent of hardwood lumber and plywood traded globally is of suspicious origin.
  • Illegal logging is environmentally and socially destructive. It is bad for biodiversity, economies, jobs and public health.
  • The U.S. Congress is currently considering new legislation — the Legal Timber Protection Act — that would bar illegally harvested timber and wood products from entering the United States. Listen to the story on NPR.
  • Corporations and consumers can help halt illegal logging by demanding and purchasing FSC-certified wood and forest products.
What You Can Do
  • Choose wood, furniture, paper and other products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Ask your favorite stores to begin carrying FSC-certified wood and paper products if you don’t see them on the shelves.