New York state legislators introduce deforestation-free procurement bill

Bill S.5921, second of its kind in the nation, moves New York towards green state purchasing

Albany, NY – Today, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Kenneth Zebrowski introduced the New York Deforestation-Free Procurement Act to ensure New York State government procurement practices do not drive deforestation in tropical and boreal forests.

“The days are long past when New Yorkers can pretend that what goes on in another part of the world has no impact on us,” said Senator Krueger. “New York State needs to ensure that the products we buy are not contributing to the loss of Earth’s most vital ecosystems.”

The bill will tighten an existing state ban on the use of tropical hardwoods for government projects and create a new statute requiring state contractors who deal in forest-risk commodities to certify that their products don’t drive deforestation. If it passes in the New York state legislature, S.5921 will boost growing supply-chain transparency efforts in the effected industries. New York State Senators Reichlin-Melnick, Kaminsky, Cooney, Kaplan, and May are prime co-sponsors of the bill.  

The bill is modeled on similar legislation that has recently been reintroduced in California. Both the New York bill and the California bill, introduced last month, are championed by Friends of the Earth. 

“Forests are essential to stabilizing our climate and serve as the earth’s immune system, safeguarding against the emergence of pandemic diseases. They are also home to numberless species and irreplaceable cultures.”’ said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forests Program Manager at Friends of the Earth U.S. “By introducing this piece of legislation, New York State joins the movement to tackle the root causes of forest destruction.” 

The largest direct cause of tropical deforestation is industrial-scale production of agricultural commodities, including palm oil, soy, cattle, paper, and rubber. The primary factor leading to boreal deforestation is industrial logging to make single-use tissue products, newsprint, and lumber. Together, these products are known as “forest-risk commodities.”

Bill S.5921 will update and close loopholes in existing statutes that limit the purchase of tropical hardwoods by the state and local governments. The bill also creates a new statute requiring contractors to certify that they are not contributing to tropical or boreal intact forest degradation or deforestation directly, or through the supply chains that involve state agencies or authorities.

Loss of biodiversity resulting from forest degradation and deforestation, as well as human encroachment on formerly undisturbed ecosystems, increases the risks of zoonotic disease pandemics such as COVID-19. 

Globally, an estimated 18,000,000 acres of forest, an area more than half the size of New York State, are lost every year to deforestation according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with over half of Earth’s tropical forests already gone. At the current pace, the entirety of Earth’s tropical rainforests will be degraded or destroyed within the next 100 years.

See the press release issued by Senator Krueger, here 

Expert contact: Jeff Conant, [email protected]
Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, [email protected], 202-222-0703

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