Here’s a good reason to buy FSC-certified wood flooring – or better yet, reclaimed wood: the biggest hardwood flooring retailer in the US is selling illegally logged wood.
After a multi-year probe, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) finds that Lumber Liquidators imports millions of square feet of illegally-logged hardwood flooring.
Federal authorities are pursuing the company for violating the 2008 Lacey Act – which bans imports of illegal wood into the US. The wood originates from endangered forests in the Russian Far East – habitat for the world’s remaining 450 Siberian tigers.
Illegally logged wood – a growing, criminal business – is responsible for 50-90% of all the forests cut down in Amazon, Central Africa and Southeast Asia.
In Russia’s forests, EIA finds that Lumber Liquidator’s single largest trading partner – China-based Suifenhe Xingjia Group – is selling it illegally logged products.
"While making record profits in recent years, Lumber Liquidators has turned a blind eye as its purchases have fueled rampant illegal logging in the region," says EIA.
China is the destination for 96% of hardwoods from Russia’s Far East. It functions like a black box for illegally logged timber, in which its origins are obscured by as manufacturers mix it with legal sources, the report says. In August, Russian officials raided a massive smuggling operation in Siberia.
"The forests of the world are facing an environmental, social and economic crisis fueled by growing demand for cheap wood and timber products in the United States, China, Japan, the European Union and elsewhere," says EIA.
This month, the EU signed an accord with Indonesia, another top country for illegal logging, that ensures only legal timber will be imported to Europe.
Here’s the report, "Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers":