Shiver Me Timbers

That mahogany table and teak armoire sure complete the feng shui of your living room. But we think they’d look a lot better in their original spot: the Amazon rainforest.

Some lawmakers feel the same way. Yesterday, a bipartisan group proposed a bill that would prohibit American companies from purchasing or selling illegally harvested timber (i.e. that which comes from delicate foreign ecosystems like the Peruvian Amazon or rainforests in Indonesia).

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) proposed the bill along with Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Jerry Weller (R-IL), but it is unclear how much additional support the bill has in Congress. Environmental groups including the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Sierra Club backed the three lawmakers in creating the bill.

From a Reuters article:

Those groups say illegal logging builds up global warming gases, decreases biodiversity, and depletes safe drinking water. They also say it tramples the rights of indigenous people, spurs corruption in poor nation’s governments, and gives rise to dangerous timber cartels.


Often, developing countries turn illegally logged wood into products like flooring, pool cues, and luxury doors that end up in US homes, Alexander von Bismark, campaign director at the Environmental Investigation Agency, told reporters at a news conference to launch the bill. He said China’s government is especially lax about the problem.

If the plight of indigenous peoples and loss of biodiversity don’t tug at politicians’ heartstrings (let’s face it, rainforest woes haven’t had much of an impact on lawmakers in the past), maybe cold hard cash will: Blumenauer says illegal logging costs the American timber industry $1 billion a year.

Though the ban on illegally imported timber may make hardwood a bit pricier for U.S. consumers, we think it’s worth the extra cash. After all, protecting an endangered red-eyed tree frog is more important than owning a fancy dresser anyway.


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