It would be difficult to overstate the impact of the 2008 Lacey Act amendment on the U.S. lumber industry. Its all-inclusive statement about holding “everyone in the supply chain accountable for legal logging practices; from the lumberjack to the carpenter” is enough to make the most confident lumber suppliers and customers cringe. The wording elsewhere in the document associates “accountability” with “due diligence” and “due care” — foggy terms that are never defined in it.
With such a broad spectrum of potential ramifications, many within the lumber industry watched with bated breath as reports surfaced about the 2011 seizure of guitars from Gibson Guitars. As we hoped, the incident did result in some clarification about Lacey Act requirements. But we still hoped for further provision.
Surprisingly, that anticipated clarification has come with 2013 legislation by the European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR). Very similar to the U.S. Lacey Act, the EUTR document provides a helpful outline of a Due Diligence System (DDS) that seems to be instructive in Lacey Act compliance, too.
Requirement #1: Accessibility of Information
The DDS requires both Lumber Importers and Lumber Distributors to be able to produce thorough records about the supply chain of all lumber. Such records must include a product description that includes both botanical and trade names, along with the country of harvest and any specific concessions or other relevant regional specifications. It should also include quantity along with the name and address of the original Lumber Supplier.
Requirement #2: Assessing the Risks
In addition to providing the information, Lumber Importers and Distributors are required to provide a written evaluation of the risks corresponding to the lumber that they handle.
In endeavoring to determine how well a specific lumber product’s production complies with the laws of the geographic area in which it was harvested, the following questions have been offered as guidelines:
1. Is illegal harvesting or armed conflict an issue in the originating country?
2. Are there any economic sanctions imposed by the originating country?
3. Is the supply chain in place unusually complicated?
4. Are the lumber products in question certified or verified by any third party scheme?
5. If the lumber is verifiable, can I trust the scheme?
6. What is the process I have used to determine the compliance of any suppliers in question?
Requirement #3: Mitigation of Risk
Of course, no DDS would be complete without a reasonable attempt to mitigate any risks that are discovered. This step begins by exploring any potential problems uncovered by the risk-assessment step. Such investigation can include securing verification documentation, attempting to attain certification, or sourcing lumber products from more reputable suppliers.
As the first official documented DDS, the EUTR document can be helpful in more ways than one. Not only does it suggest some specific steps that relate to “due diligence” for those concerned about Lacey Act compliance, but the EUTR document also helps create an atmosphere in which sawmills will become more accustomed to having to provide buyers with the kind of documentation that only U.S. buyers have been requesting, until now.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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