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Lacey Act Amendment of 2008

In 2008, the Lacey Act was amended to cover plant products (timber), making it unlawful to “import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase” any plant or plant products that are “taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any foreign law. The new law includes a declaration requirement that went into effect on May 1, 2009. IWPA along with its coalition partners are working with the relevant government agencies to develop a declaration process that does not cause undue hardship for importers and users of wood products.

The Lacey Act in Congress

IWPA continues to work with our partners in Congress to seek common-sense reform of the Lacey Act in order to reduce the Lacey Act’s unintended burden on businesses acting in good faith while ensuring enforcement resources can be focused on those who seek to profit from the trade of illegally harvested wood. Reform would involve four important changes:

Pre-2008 Clarity.  H.R. 3280, the Lacey Act Clarifying Amendments Act of 2013, will provide much needed certainty to businesses that buy and sell wood and wood products by clarifying that the restrictions imposed by the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008 do not apply to plants and plant products harvested, finished, or processed before May 22, 2008. 

Declaration on Demand.  H.R. 3324, the Lacey Act Paperwork Reduction Act will create a simpler and more efficient declaration-on-demand system under which importers would maintain information required on the declaration and produce the documentation at the request of federal enforcement agencies. 

Due Process for Due Care.  An “innocent owner” protection would clarify that strict liability for seizure of contraband under the civil asset forfeiture statute does not apply to plants covered under the Lacey Act Amendments, and provide due process to return seized goods to those who can demonstrate to a federal judge they exercised proper due care in compliance with the law. 

Scope of Foreign Laws.  We support legislation that would specify that the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008 only apply to foreign laws directed at the protection, conservation, or management of plants or ecosystems. The scope of foreign laws that can be swept into the language of the 2008 Amendments is susceptible to very broad interpretation and application. 

Below you will find a variety of resources on the Act as well as on our efforts to amend it. Please contact Joe O'Donnell with any questions.


Recent Developments


Lacey Act Coalition Response to Gibson Guitar's Settlement


House Resolution 3210: The RELIEF Act

Letters of support for the RELIEF Act (HR 3210)

Lacey Act Implementation Resources

IWPA and Efforts to Improve Lacey Act Implementation

Lacey Act Amendments of 2008

IWPA Helps Launch Forest Legality Alliance

Brent McClendon, who served as Executive Vice President of IWPA, lauded the establishment of the Forest Legality Alliance (FLA), at a Press Briefing in Washington, DC on May 26, 2010. McClendon explained how increased trade in forest products is one of the most successful strategies to reduce deforestation and forest destruction caused by land conversion practices.