Good News for the Lumber Industry: Part 5
The 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act, conservation legislation drafted back in 1900, changed the landscape of the U.S. lumber industry. Even more impactful than the clearly stated requirements was the lack of clarification: No one seemed to know exactly what would meet the requirement of “due diligence.” Since everyone along the supply chain was responsible to achieve that enigmatic goal, frustrations mounted within the industry.
In 2011, the Gibson Guitar case brought mainstream media attention to this issue facing the lumber industry. The resulting “Lacey Act Compliance Program” drafted jointly by Gibson Guitars and the Department of Justice has proven to be helpful in evaluating existing plans. In 2013, we received additional assistance in unpacking the meaning of “due diligence” from an unlikely source: The European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR).
Although not officially relating to the Lacey Act in any way, the EUTR legislation is similar enough to the Lacey Act to provide some additional guidance, in the way of outlining a Due Diligence System, or DDS. By offering and detailing 3 basic steps in ascertaining whether lumber has been legally and responsibly sourced and traded, the European legislation can be instructive for those seeking to meet Lacey Act requirements, as well.
The first step is to make information about the origin and supply chain accessible. Such records must include product descriptions, including botanical and trade names and quantity, and source information, including name and address of original supplier and specific relevant regional information.
The second step is to assess risk. This step includes asking several questions about the lumber in question, using the following as a starting point:
- Is illegal harvesting or armed conflict an issue in the originating country?
- Are there any economic sanctions imposed by the originating country?
- Is the supply chain in place unusually complicated?
- Are the lumber products in question certified or verified by any third party scheme?
- If the lumber is verifiable, can I trust the scheme?
- What is the process I have used to determine the compliance of any suppliers in question?
With the requirement of assessing risks comes the third step which is taking the responsibility of following up with the assessment by mitigating any risks uncovered during that process. In addition to securing verification documentation or attaining certification when possible, sometimes this step will mean securing lumber from different sources.
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 its enactment also functions to create an atmosphere in which sawmills will become more accustomed to having to provide buyers with the kind of documentation that up until now only U.S. buyers have been requesting.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we’re pleased to provide conscientious lumber customers with a virtual insurance policy for businesses wishing to purchase sustainably and legally sourced materials. Our customers can rest assured that we meticulously strive to conduct due diligence and deliver Lacey Act compliant lumber with a paper trail to prove it.