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Newly launched forestry standard combats illegally harvested timber

Press release from the issuing company

Emeryville, CA - Illegal logging damages forest ecosystems, local communities and the economies of producer countries. The illicit trade of forest products made from protected species, harvested from unauthorized areas, or in excess of legal limits has persisted in part because no universally accepted method existed for precluding these products from supply chains. The new LegalHarvest Verification Standard fills the void by identifying legal production and transport methods for the 90% of the world's forests not already certified to another responsible forest management program.

The LegalHarvest Standard, released in August 2010, arrives just as the European Parliament voted in favor of a ban on illegally harvested timber and products made from illegal wood. Together with the US Lacey Act, the EU ban prohibits illegally harvested timber in the world's largest markets for wood products. Australia and New Zealand are likely to follow suit in the near future.

"We developed the LegalHarvest standard to help forest product businesses prepare for sweeping regulations like the EU ban and the expansion of Lacey. By being verified to our standard, companies can demonstrate due care in sourcing legally harvested wood products," says Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, Senior Vice-President of Scientific Certification Systems, the US based environmental certification company that developed the new standard.

The new EU ban and the 2008 expansion of the Lacey Act mean that companies that sell timber and timber products, such as furniture and flooring, will now be required to perform due diligence to ensure that any timber used was logged and procured legally. Fines and confiscation of product are among the strict penalties for those companies out of compliance.

"Legal Harvest Verification provides the kind of stringent oversight needed to protect the world's forests. We applaud the approval of this standard and look forward to seeing the forest product industry increase its capacity for responsibly harvested wood," says Scott Poynton, Director of The Forest Trust (TFT), a leading non-profit that focuses on forest conservation.

Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) is a global leader in independent certification and verification of environmental stewardship and sustainability. For more than 25 years, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and certification programs that ensure the highest level of environmental performance and social accountability for its clients. SCS is a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council, the world's leading forest certification program.