U.S. opposes international plan to curb illegal logging, memo reveals

The U.S. is working to undermine a British-led effort to curb illegal logging in threatened rainforests, according to a leaked U.S. State Department memo. Indonesian leaders recently declared that they don’t have the capacity to control the criminal gangs that are plundering the nation’s tropical forests, and they asked wealthy nations to cut the demand for cheap, illegally obtained timber. In response, British Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed an initiative whereby the governments of wealthy G8 countries would pledge to buy lumber only if it comes from properly managed forests. But the leaked memo reveals an unofficial U.S. strategy to work with Canada to prevent restrictions on lumber purchases and convince Russia and Japan to oppose the British initiative as well. Some enviro activists blame the U.S. timber industry and its opposition to timber-certification efforts. Said Faith Doherty of the U.K.’s Environmental Investigation Agency, “This is outrageous. U.S. business simply doesn’t want any restrictions on its own practices.”