FOREST Act Introduced to Limit Imports Linked to Illegal Deforestation

Members of Congress reintroduced a bill that would restrict imports of certain products linked to illegal deforestation. 

The bill, "Fostering Overseas Rule of Law and Environmentally Sound Trade Act of 6 2023," was introduced in the Senate by Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and in the House of Representatives by Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). 

According to the sponsors, the FOREST Act restricts access to U.S. markets for certain commodities originating from illegally deforested land, reducing the incentive to sacrifice forests for agriculture use and using this market leverage to improve laws, monitoring, and enforcement in countries experiencing illegal deforestation. The United Kingdom and the European Union recently enacted similar measures to fight deforestation.

The FOREST Act’s sponsors said the bill "builds on the success of the Lacey Act," which prohibits the trade of wildlife and timber from illegal sources. The commodities covered by this legislation include palm oil, soybeans, cocoa, cattle and rubber.

Sponsors said the bill:

  • Creates a risk-based framework for increasing transparency and reporting in companies’ international supply chains
  • Provides financial and technical assistance that enable countries, companies, and the U.S. federal government to coordinate solutions to reduce illegal deforestation
  • Incorporates deforestation in financial crime statutes so the U.S. can prosecute those who use the proceeds from deforestation to fund other criminal or terrorist enterprises
  • Establishes a purchasing preference for the federal government for deforestation-free products.

The full bill can be read here.

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