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Lumber Liquidators Caught Selling Illegal Wood

Words by Nithin Coca
Leadership & Transparency
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When companies do good, they should be rewarded. Likewise, when companies do bad, they need to be punished. Lumber Liquidators needs be held accountable for selling timber harvested from illegal sources, putting ecosystems at risk.

One of the biggest issues in the world is deforestation. It is destroying critical habitat for species and is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. There are many driving forces behind deforestation – agriculture, natural resource development and urbanization, for example – but there is one cause that should no longer be acceptable in a world of technology and supply chain management: illegal timber harvesting.

Yet, one of America's largest timber wholesalers just got caught being a conduit for illegal timber and, by association, deforestation. From Sierra Club:

“In 2013, federal agents raided the offices of Lumber Liquidators, one of the nation's largest hardwood flooring retailers, investigating allegations that the company knowingly imported wood products illegally harvested in the Russian Far East. These forests are critical habitat for the last 450 wild Siberian tigers.”

Thankfully, there is a strong law that protects forests globally and can be applied to punish Lumber Liquidators.
“The Lacey Act, passed in 1900 to combat the illegal wildlife trade, was strengthened to fight illegal logging in 2008 -- and it’s these forests’ best defense. If adequately enforced, the law would ensure that wood products have been sourced legally and violators like Lumber Liquidators would face fines or jail time.”

It is crucially important that Lumber Liquidators is held responsible for what it did. There are hundreds of companies that have signed non-deforestation commitments, such as Unilever, and who have invested millions to ensure that their commitments are enforced. They are the reason that laws like the Lacey Act exist.

If Lumber Liquidators gets away with this, it will not only lead to more deforestation, but it will also weaken the will of other companies to implement strong supply chain management. Voluntary commitments are good, but legal enforcement is necessary when especially egregious acts are committed.

Sierra Club is pushing for the Department of Justice to punish Lumber Liquidators fully. Click here to join their call.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Nithin Coca

Nithin Coca is a freelance journalist who focuses on environmental, social, and economic issues around the world, with specific expertise in Southeast Asia.

Read more stories by Nithin Coca