U.S. Allowing Illegal Mahogany Imports, Lawsuit Says


Mahogany—fast becoming an endangered species—is just one of those materials TreeHugger considers suspect. Chances are it is just not sustainable—or legal. A new lawsuit filed in New York's U.S. Court of International Trade against the Department of Homeland Security and two other federal agencies suggests illegal imports from Peru continue to infiltrate the U.S. market. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—a U.S.-based conservation organization—and indigenous groups state nearly all of Peru's mahogany exports are logged illegally. From that timber, more than 80 percent ends up in the United States. The importing, the lawsuit charges, violates the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the international Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) treaty.

At the current rate, it could reportedly take less than 10 years for mahogany to reach a commercially extinct level. "While U.S. border control agencies look the other way, the rainforest and the communities that depend on them to survive are being plundered," says Ari Hershowitz, NRDC's Latin America BioGems project director. There are sustainable examples out there (check out this bed and these side tables).

But according to the American Institute of Biological Sciences, mahogany takes 50 to 100 years to reach the legal, commercial size. Were we thinking about sustainable planting 50 years ago? Or even 10 years ago? Perhaps we should wait 50 years before we can truly endorse any eco-friendly introduction of this wood... ::The Natural Resources Defense Council ::The American Institute of Biological Sciences

Image courtesy of Ali Hutchinson