With the recent amendment of the Lacey Act that provides criminal penalties for any U.S. company that knowingly imports illegally harvested wood, the Alexandria, Va.-based Tropical Forest Foundation has instituted a program to assist with independent auditing to confirm tropical-wood products for sale in the U.S. meet legal requirements.

The TFF Legal Verified program is the first step in a forest-sustainability initiative called Reduced Impact Logging. RIL is a set of management practices that results in more sustainably managed forests by harvesting at an appropriate level and in such a way that minimizes collateral damage to streams, wildlife and non-harvest trees. TFF partners have carried out long-term studies in Brazil that show RIL provides a steady economic return for local economic development. TFF partner Jeff Waldon, Conservation Management Institute, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, explains, “It doesn’t provide the maximum short-term economic benefit in many cases but rather strives to produce the most economic return over the long run while maintaining important ecosystem services like carbon retention and biodiversity protection.” For more information, visit www.tropicalforestfoundation.org.