Illegal Deforestation and Associated Trade (IDAT) Risk - USA
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April 5, 2024
Russia’s New Timber Squeeze: Supply Gap Crunches Producers

Russia is now facing a growing gap between timber production and log supply, with production growing 5% in 2024, while commercial logging of Russian forests has nose-dived 26%.


That is according to Lesprom’s “Russian Lumber Industry Insights,” which reports that Russian sawmills are now bleeding thanks to a critical shortage in raw materials and are struggling to meet rising demand from major export markets.


The problem for Russia is that Western Companies—which provided much of the foreign direct investment needed to modernise logging operations in the decades leading up to the 2022 war—have now exited the country on mass, creating large gaps in the Russian supply chain.

March 26, 2024
Why Palm Oil Is Still a Big Problem

A new analysis by Global Witness, an environmental watchdog organization, and Trase, a nonprofit that analyzes supply chains, finding that palm oil is now the commodity consumed by Americans that contributes most to the loss of tropical forests. Researchers looked at import data and deforestation rates and found that palm oil bought by Americans may have caused 103,000 acres of deforestation, mostly in Indonesia.

March 22, 2024
Cargo ship loaded with €40m of Russian conflict timber seized in Germany

Sanctioned Russian birch  plywood worth an estimated €40 million has been seized at Rostock Port in Germany. The ship was en route to the United States, but stopped in Germany for an emergency. The Canadian-owned shipping firm argue that the vessel’s cargo should be exempt, because it only docked in Germany due to an emergency. German Customs have rejected that argument. The wood may be linked to a Russian timber giant Sveza, which is part-owned by Alexei Mordashov, Russia’s richest man and a  subject of EU and US sanctions.

Also reported here:
€40M of Conflict Timber Seized: How the US $2B Log Trade Fuels War | Wood Central

March 4, 2024
JBS faces ‘greenwashing’ lawsuit as opposition mounts to NY listing

The New York state’s Attorney General is initiating a lawsuit against Brazilian meatpacker JBS for misrepresenting its environmental impact with “fake sustainability claims to boost sales”. A large part of the lawsuit focuses on JBS setting a net zero goal for 2040, but not to releasing a realistic plan to achieve that goal. A significant amount of the company’s emissions come from deforestation in Brazil to clear new land for cattle grazing.

March 4, 2024
JBS faces ‘greenwashing’ lawsuit as opposition mounts to NY listing

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Brazilian beef group JBS is facing mounting opposition to its planned US share listing from politicians and campaigners, with New York officials now accusing it of “greenwashing”.  The state’s attorney-general Letitia James announced she was suing the American arm of JBS last week, alleging that it misrepresented its environmental impact with “fake sustainability claims to boost sales”.

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February 28, 2024
Myanmar’s controversial timber trade persists, despite Western sanctions

Illegal timber from Myanmar  continues to be imported into Europe and the US despite Western sanctions. In Europe, Italy continues to stand out as a destination for teak and other controversial forest products. Between January and October 2023, Italian companies imported more Myanmar wood products than any other European country — about $3.3 million worth — for use in furniture and construction, according to Italian government data analyzed by the national timber trade association FederlegnoArredo.

February 28, 2024
Pension funds linked to deforestation in the Cerrado

The destruction of the Cerrado is closely linked to the growing demand for meat and dairy. This report shows that some of the world’s largest investment funds that have put billions into buying farmland in the Cerrado, including pension funds in Sweden and Germany, Harvard University’s endowment, and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, better known as TIAA, the $1.2 trillion pension fund for 5 million people across the United States. Thanks in part to its investments in Brazilian farmland, TIAA has become one of the largest farmland investors in the world. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Nuveen Natural Capital, the fund has accumulated some 3 million acres across 10 countries. Its investments in Brazil, where it manages 1 million acres, are some of its most controversial holdings.

February 20, 2024
US Government Issues Supplemental Business Advisory for Myanmar

On January 26, 2024, the US Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Labor, and the Office of the US Trade Representative published a Supplemental Business Advisory (“Supplemental Advisory”) intended to highlight additional high-risk sectors and activities and update guidance for individuals, businesses, financial institutions, and other persons (e.g., investors, consultants, non-governmental organizations, due diligence service providers) regarding continued risks of doing business in Myanmar/Burma.  The Supplementary Advisory incorporates significant sanctions developments against Myanmar since the previous advisory on similar topics was issued in 2022.


The timber sector is listed as “of concern” with a summary of risks identified in the Advisory, as well as risk mitigations recommended by the Advisory.

February 15, 2024
Florida conspirators sentenced to nearly five years in prison each for evading over $42 million in duties when illegally importing and selling plywood

A Florida husband and wife, Noel and Kelsy Hernandez Quintana were both sentenced yesterday to 57 months in prison for illegally importing and selling between $25 million and $65 million worth of plywood products in violation of the Lacey Act and customs laws. In addition to their prison sentences, the Quintanas were ordered to pay, jointly and severally, $42,417,318.50 in forfeitures. According to a US District Attorney, the defendants evaded ”  legally mandated customs duties on plywood manufactured in China using Russian timber. Moreover, … the defendants covered up their criminal scheme to violate federal environmental law, while also unjustly enriching themselves.”

February 5, 2024
Harmful mining continues in Nicaragua despite U.S. sanctions, new investigation shows

The U.S. imposed sanctions against Nicaragua in 2022 but numerous mines are still operating like normal or even expanding, according to a new report from the Oakland Institute, a think tank dealing with social and environmental issues.


Despite the sanctions, the U.S. was Nicaragua’s largest gold importer last year, bringing in around $465 million.


Expanding mining concessions has resulted in pollution and human rights violations against Indigenous communities.

January 31, 2024
Extraction of raw materials to rise by 60% by 2060, says UN report

The global extraction of raw materials is expected to increase by 60% by 2060. The stripping of Earth’s natural materials is already responsible for 60% of global heating impacts, including land use change, 40% of air pollution impact, and more than 90% of global water stress and land-related biodiversity loss, says the report, due to be released in February.

January 18, 2024
Deforestation-free supply chains: ADM’s traceable soybean pilot ships to Europe Print EmailFacebookXLinkedInShare Click to copy link Decrease font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

In a bid to combat deforestation ahead of new EU rules, ADM is expanding its traceable soybean pilot and regenerative agriculture initiatives. The commodities giant has just loaded and shipped its first vessels of verified, fully traceable soybeans from the US to Europe and intends to expand these capabilities to other key locations across North America in the 2024 growing season.

December 21, 2023
U.S. and U.K. lawmakers must wake up to the coffee problem (commentary)

Coffee is a globally traded agri-commodity that is also a major driver of deforestation, mass extinction, child labor, slavery, and other abuses.

The FOREST Act just introduced in the U.S. Senate would regulate palm oil, cocoa, rubber, cattle, and soy – but not coffee. Also this month, the U.K. announced details of its long-awaited deforestation legislation, but it doesn’t cover coffee, either.

It’s time for regulators in these top coffee consuming countries to wake up, recognize the urgency, and regulate coffee, a new op-ed argues.

This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily of Mongabay.

November 15, 2023
From ranch to plate: beef supply chain mapping

AidEnvironment has mapped the Colombian palm oil supply chain, assessed how the Unites States is tied to scope-3 emissions linked to global commodity trade and consumption. We have also mapped importing operators eligible under the EU Deforestation Regulation. Their datasets combine thousands of direct and indirect suppliers of key meatpackers, soy traders, and oil palm and industrial tree concessions globally with rural cadastre data, allowing for monitoring of real-time deforestation, degradation, and fires in their plots of land. 

November 3, 2023
How an American meat broker is fueling Amazon deforestation

China has become the world’s biggest importer of beef, and Brazil is China’s biggest supplier, according to United Nations Comtrade data. More beef moves from Brazil to China than between any other two countries.


But the Brazilian cattle industry is a major driver of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Data analysis by The Associated Press and the Rainforest Investigations Network, a nonprofit reporting consortium, found that a little-known American company is among the key suppliers and distributors feeding China’s hunger for beef – and the Amazon deforestation that it fuels.


Salt Lake City-based Parker-Migliorini International, better known as PMI Foods, has been a major beneficiary of the beef trade between Brazil and China. PMI has shipped more than $1.7 billion in Brazilian beef over the last decade – more than 95% of it to China, according to data from Panjiva, a company that uses customs records to track international trade. Over the last decade, Chinese beef imports have surged sixfold, U.N. Comtrade data shows, and PMI has helped satisfy China’s growing demand.

October 26, 2023
US ‘perfect playground’ for laundering money linked to environmental crimes, new report finds

The report by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, published on Oct. 26,  said that “critical gaps” in the U.S. anti-money laundering system are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups, including those behind the destruction of the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest.


FACT’s analysis focuses on forestry crimes and illegal mining in Peru and Colombia.  The report also summarizes how U.S. importers sidestep the law by not trading directly with the blacklisted Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) but instead with non-sanctioned Myanmar exporters and middlemen based in Singapore, Thailand and other third countries.

October 1, 2023
Dirty Money and the Destruction of the Amazon: Uncovering the U.S. Role in Illicit Financial Flows from Environmental Crimes in Peru and Colombia

The United States, as the world’s largest economy and premier supplier of financial secrecy, has a crucial role to play in denying financial safe haven to criminals that would degrade the Amazon. The FACT Coalition’s 100-plus members, including prominent environmental organizations, advocate for policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices.

FACT’s new report draws on interviews with local and regional activists, indigenous leaders, anti-money laundering experts, and government officials in Peru, Colombia, and the United States to show how financial secrecy contributes to facilitating these crimes. The report lays out a comprehensive U.S. reform agenda.

April 25, 2023
Groundbreaking New York Climate Bill Passes Senate

ALBANY, NY – The New York Tropical Deforestation-Free Procurement Act (S.4859/A.5682) passed in the New York State Senate today as part of a package of environmental bills and will next head to the State Assembly. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger (D-28) and Asm. Kenneth Zebrowski (D-96), builds on New York’s climate and justice leadership and is based on the state’s decades-long success of implementing common-sense procurement reforms. The legislation ensures that state and local government procurement does not fund climate destruction, specifically tropical deforestation, tropical primary forest degradation and associated abuses of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local tropical communities.

April 15, 2023
US extends duty evasion probe into plywood from Vietnam

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) recently
unveiled an extension of the deadline for issuing its final
conclusion on a trade remedy duty evasion probe into
hardwood plywood imported from the Vietnamese market.
This marks the sixth time that the DOC has announced an
extension, with the final determination expected on 2 May.
In July 2022, the DOC announced the preliminary
conclusion of the case, saying that plywood from Vietnam
using materials from China should be subject to the same
anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties applied to the
northern neighbour.

April 7, 2023
Ashland wildlife lab’s tools and know-how key to detecting illegal timber imports

Ashland is the unexpected home of the country’s only full-service forensic laboratory devoted to tracking illegally transported animals and plants. Now the lab is employing a new strategy to get forensic tools to U.S. ports to stop the illegal timber trade.

March 8, 2023
How Florida wood traders navigate ban on repressive regime’s rare teak: Tree DNA tests

Florida companies Teakdecking Systems and Florida Teak imported more than half a million pounds of Burmese teak from Myanmar despite U.S. economic sanctions against the Myanma Timber Enterprise, the state firm that de facto controls the country’s timber sector.


Both tout certifications from Singapore-based Double Helix Tracking Technologies, a third-party company that checks whether the sourcing of teak is clean.


Double Helix is still verifying shipments from Myanmar but is unable to do DNA tests anymore and business is dwindling, Thomas said. The service it offers now is to check that private traders bought their teak from Myanma Timber Enterprise prior to the sanctions and to ensure that the teak did not subsequently pass through any facility whose majority-owners were a sanctioned entity before shipping.


Sanctions experts told the Herald that traders are taking a huge risk if they are importing teak from Myanmar post-sanctions, regardless of when the order was placed and how it was stored and transported.


March 7, 2023
From Taiwan to Turkey and beyond: How Deforestation Inc exposed the teak trade from Myanmar

Deforestation Inc. reporters in a dozen countries investigated weak government efforts and loopholes allowing companies to keep trading Myanmar teak, a natural resource controlled by the military junta.


The Deforestation Inc. investigation by ICIJ and its 39 partners found that timber traders in three continents have continued to import Myanmar teak by the ton to supply shipbuilders and furniture manufacturers around the world, while consumers may be unwittingly financing the junta’s repressive campaign.


The reporters visited boat shows in Fort Lauderdale, Amsterdam and Paris to learn about the international teak market. They interviewed timber traders in 11 countries and pored over documents leaked from Myanmar’s tax agency and shared with ICIJ by Justice for Myanmar, a human rights group, U.K.-based news outlet Finance Uncovered and Distributed Denial of Secrets, a data transparency group.


Cases from Slovenia, Croatia, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Turkey, Taiwan, France, and India are included.

March 4, 2023
Teak for yachts strips exotic forest, boost harsh regime. It's shipped here despite U.S. ban

Teak from Myanmar (formerly called Burma) is coveted by yacht owners and builders for its pliancy and water-resistance, but it has a dark side: The country of 54 million is run by a military junta that has so far killed at least 3,000 and arrested more than 19,000 civilians, according to human rights groups. The nation has descended into civil war.

Read more at:

October 1, 2022
How Russian timber bypasses U.S. sanctions by way of Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Russian birch wood has continued to flow to American consumers, disguised as Asian products, despite U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a new report says.

September 29, 2022
The Fixers: Top U.S. flooring retailers linked to Brazilian firm probed for corruption
  • New evidence uncovered by a yearlong investigation by Mongabay and Earthsight reveals the corrupt deals made by Brazil’s largest flooring exporter, Indusparquet, and its suppliers.
  • The company was charged in two corruption lawsuits in Brazil over its use of public officials to gain access to timber supplies. Mongabay and Earthsight gained access to dozens of hours of wiretaps and video footage, along with thousands of pages of court records, revealing how the alleged bribery schemes were carried out.
  • One of the court cases showed the company used a local official to secure the supply of bracatinga, a tree species native to the Atlantic Forest, for an unnamed “U.S. client.”
  • We also found indications that the American client was Floor & Decor, America’s largest flooring retail chain, which was previously involved in illegal timber scandals with Indusparquet, while LL Flooring, fined for breaching the Lacey Act in 2013 over its illegal timber exports, is also an Indusparquet client.
August 27, 2022
DOC not yet issued final decision for trade remedies on hardwood plywood

VIETNAM, August 27 – HÀ NỘI — The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has not yet issued the final determination on the imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on certain hardwood plywood products and veneered panels exported from Việt Nam.

The Việt Nam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFOREST) has confirmed that the DOC on April 15 extended the deadline to issue a final determination to October 17.

The DOC initiated the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation on hardwood plywood from Việt Nam on June 17, 2020, to enforce the trade remedies measures on Chinese hardwood plywood.

The US is currently applying anti-dumping of 183.36 per cent and anti-subsidy duties from 22.98 per cent to 194.9 per cent on hardwood plywood products from China.

On July 25, DOC announced its preliminary determination that hardwood plywood exported from Việt Nam, which was assembled in Việt Nam using hardwood plywood imports sourced from China, were products of China and were subject to the anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty orders on hardwood plywood from China.

July 28, 2022
USTR announces enforcement action to block illegal timber imports from Peru

The Office of the United States Trade Representative today announced that the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru (Timber Committee) has directed United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to continue to block any timber imports from Inversiones WCA E.I.R.L. (WCA), a Peruvian exporter, based on illegally harvested timber found in its supply chain.

“The Biden Administration is committed to combatting illegal deforestation and keeping illegally harvested timber out of supply chains,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Illegally harvested timber not only harms the environment and depletes natural resources but also disadvantages workers and businesses who use lawful and sustainable means to make their goods.”

June 15, 2022
A timber sale in Oregon tests Biden’s pledge to protect older trees

Not far from the town of McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, on the western slope of the Cascades, stand towering groves of trees that have survived more than a century of wind, fire, insects and disease. To Jerry Franklin, long-considered one of the foremost authorities on old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, this landscape of mature Douglas-fir and western hemlock is thriving and, most significantly, removing ever-more carbon from the atmosphere.

That is not what the Forest Service sees. Too many trees in this corner of the Williamette National Forest are competing for water and sunlight, and some are dying, agency officials say.

Now, the service is preparing to auction off these woodlands as early as next year as part of a timber sale, called Flat Country, that targets nearly 4,500 acres. Conservation groups that have analyzed the project say the vast majority of the lumber the agency intends to cut would come from stands of trees ranging in age from 80 to 150 years old.

June 10, 2022
Brazil Seeks US Help to Stop Illegal Trade of Amazon Timber

US and Brazilian authorities are discussing a cooperation to stop illegal trade of timber from the Amazon, as well as other environmental crimes against the rainforest, according to Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite.

“We are focused on preventing the illegal international trade of timber that happens in the region,” Leite said in an interview in Los Angeles on Friday, where he’s attending the Summit of the Americas as part of President Jair Bolsonaro’s delegation. “US support is very important.”

April 27, 2022
The Roadless Rule is supposed to protect wild places. What went wrong in the Tongass National Forest?

In 2001, in the waning days of his administration, President Bill Clinton issued the Roadless Area Conservation Policy, also known as the Roadless Rule. The directive was designed to restrict roadbuilding, and by extension large-scale logging and mining, on 58 million acres in the country’s national forests. For more than two decades, industry interests and resource-heavy states have challenged the policy. But the Roadless Rule has largely always prevailed, and long been heralded as a major win for conservation, helping to protect the United States’ few remaining wild places. Except, that is, for the Tongass.

The policy’s legacy is being challenged in Alaska, where resource extraction is a key driver of the state’s politics. Governors from both parties have fought the Roadless Rule in federal court. Now, Naukati Bay and the other communities nestled within Tongass are on the front lines of the debate over clear-cutting old-growth trees in the 21st century.

April 22, 2022
FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Global Deforestation

Today, on Earth Day, President Biden will sign an Executive Order to expand his Administration’s historic and bold efforts to tackle the climate crisis, make our nation more resilient to extreme weather, and strengthen local economies. The President will sign the Executive Order in Seattle, Washington—rounding out a trip across the West focused on lowering costs for families and protecting communities from intensifying climate impacts. Wildfires and extreme weather events are growing in frequency and ferocity, engulfing communities in the West and across the country and costing lives, homes, and money. Because President Biden knows the cost of inaction is too great, he is taking bold executive action and reaffirming his calls on Congress to address the climate crisis.

Key Resources
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