Alarmed by “rampant deforestation,” Norway has banned the use of certain species of hardwood in its public buildings. The new law, which was approved last week by Norwegian lawmakers, prohibits tropical wood from being used as building material, including flooring. The northern European nation, which has a population of about 4.6 million and is roughly the size of Montana, said the move is aimed at strengthening its environmental and social profile within public procurement.

“We are very satisfied with the ambitious aims established by the Norwegian government in this action plan,” said Lars Lavold, director of Rainforest Foundation Norway. “It establishes an important example by saying no to all tropical timber.”

The government policy is designed to help slow the “rampant deforestation” of tropical areas and the resulting effects of climate change, according to Lavold. “Every year an area half the size of Norway is being destroyed,” he noted. “This threatens the unique biodiversity in the forests and the millions of people depending on it for food and shelter.”

He added that the government is not looking to stop all logging in tropical forests, but needs to see an international certification system put in place, ensuring that all imported wood is harvested legally and in a sustainable manner.

“Until a reliable system is in place, we support the government’s decision to ban the use of tropical wood,” he said.