Learn more about the TREES Act.

What would the TREES ACT do to protect tropical forests?

The TREES ACT would:

  • Tighten an existing state ban on the use of tropical hardwoods for government projects
  • Requires state contractors who deal in forest-risk commodities to take specific due diligence steps and then certify their products don't drive deforestation
  • Help New York-based small, medium- sized, and women and minority-owned enterprises comply, by creating a supply chain transparency assistance program

How would the TREES Act benefit New Yorkers?

Like the Governor, who has set out to plant 25 million trees by 2033, businesses and ordinary New Yorkers also want to do their part to combat the climate crisis. And the TREES ACT would give them an opportunity to help shape a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy that also guards against climate change and protects biodiversity:

  • Businesses, through their supplier decisions, would help protect tropical forests. This includes small businesses and MWBEs, which would get extra help from the state to ensure they, too, could establish ethical supply chains.
  • Ordinary New Yorkers would know their tax dollars were not exacerbating the climate, biodiversity, and justice crises.
  • New York-based producers of timber, paper, beef, soy, and other agricultural products would benefit by finding new in-state markets, as state contractors replaced tropical forest-damaging products with forest-safe alternatives.
  • With the TREES Act, we can curtail deforestation, create opportunities for local businesses, and it won’t even cost consumers a dime. That’s a win-win-win. 

Why is it important to protect tropical forests?

  • Tropical forests mitigate carbon emissions by absorbing carbon. A study showed that 15% of all human carbon emissions between 1990 and 2007 were absorbed by tropical forests. 
  • Tropical forests safeguard biodiversity. are home to almost 50 percent of all species on Earth, some of which are going extinct due to human activity at a rate 100 to 1,000 times higher than historical levels.
  • Large agricultural producers are clear-cutting tropical forests to expand agriculture at the fastest rate in history. Globally,18 million acres of forest, an area more than half the size of New York State, are lost every year to deforestation. according to the United Nations. Over half of Earth’s tropical forests are already gone. At the current pace, they will all be gone in less than 100 years.
  • Cutting down tropical forests has a wide range of other negative consequences, including human rights violations against frontline and Indigenous communities, soil erosion and destruction of downstream arable land, and an increased risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. 

Governor Hochul vetoed a similar bill last year. How does this year’s TREES Act address her concerns?

  • More time to comply. State contractors have been given until 2027, rather than 2025 as in the previous bill, to comply with the certification provisions.
  • More clarity for state contractors. The Office of General Services will establish concrete and specific due diligence steps for state contractors to complete so that they can certify that products furnished to the state are deforestation-free. The role of the stakeholder advisory group has been reduced so that OGS can issue regulations more efficiently.
  • Temporary exemptions for contractors to certain agencies. State contractors doing business with the MTA and the Staten Island Ferry will be exempt for five years, with the possibility of up to five additional one-year extensions.
  • Exemptions when solicitations receive no bids. If a state agency or authority receives no bids in response to a solicitation, it can exempt bidders from complying in order to make an award. If the agency does not need the exemption for three consecutive years (because it receives compliant bids), its authority to use the exemption will be withdrawn.
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