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The Lacey Act and You-Volume 5





Issue 5: February 29, 2012

All for One - Working Together to Fix Lacey

The world’s leading environmental organizations and the members of the IWPA disagree on policy issues from time to time. But we have one very important common goal: we want to preserve the world’s forests. We don’t want to see them plundered by organized criminals, wiped out for agribusiness, or stripped bare by indigenous people desperate for firewood and building material. 

Congress adopted the 2008 Lacey Act Amendment to help us fight illegal logging. But because it was so poorly worded, the amendment actually hinders the effort to end illegal logging by burying honest businesses under an avalanche of paperwork while exposing them to jail time and heavy fines for circumstances beyond their control. It was quickly obvious that the Lacey Amendment needed amending, and support from across the spectrum emerged to seek those much-needed fixes (see Consensus Statement below).

But as various bills move on Capitol Hill, some organizations are now fighting legislative efforts to enact the improvements that they supported, arguing instead for a regulatory approach that could literally take years, if they succeed at all. But regardless how this debate plays out, the fact remains that almost everyone agrees that the best way to preserve the forests is to provide economic incentives for countries to sustainably manage their forests. And the way to do that is through honest, fair and sustainable trade.

Broadly speaking, there are four types of people seeking to capitalize on the inherent value of forests:

  • Honest businesses seeking to develop a sustainable source of legally harvested trees;
  • Multi-national corporations that seek to convert forests for cattle ranching or agriculture use;
  • Criminal elements looking for a quick buck; and
  • Indigenous people seeking solutions to immediate problems like poverty and the need for fuel or shelter. (According to the World Bank, “More than 90 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty [are] dependent on forests for some part of their livelihoods.”)

Only one of these groups can be in the forest at any given time. And it is universally accepted that the best person is the one that seeks to preserve the forest for generations to come.

The concept is very simple and time-tested. When we work together and create economic incentives, we encourage communities to manage—and preserve—their forests. This leads to their long-term conservation and protection. And despite the occasionally divisive rhetoric of the current political debate, there is still virtually universal agreement among business and environmentalists alike that the best way to preserve forests is to promote legal trade.

Like the nation’s leading environmental advocates, the IWPA vehemently opposes illegal logging and supports activities that reduce illegal logging, create economic incentives for responsible forestry, and reward sustainably sourced wood. This shared philosophy is just one of the reasons that the IWPA is a member of the Forest Legality Alliance’s Industry Advisory Group. Working together, we can protect the world’s great forests.

They Said It

“Done right, trade supports environmental protection. And the Alliance recognizes the role trade plays in protecting our world’s great forests.”
Craig Hanson, director of World Resources Institute’s People and Ecosystems Program

“Over the past three years, a broad coalition of environmental, business, manufacturing, hardwood, and other groups has sought to clarify the Lacey Act. The coalition, including the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the Hardwood Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Sierra Club, produced a series of three Consensus Statements laying out proposed changes. … Many provisions in the RELIEF Act are based on these proposed changes.” Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN), The Relief Act FAQ's

“We do not wish to hinder legitimate trade in wildlife or wildlife products. We believe that healthy, viable, sustaining wildlife populations should be harvested and trade promoted. It is the destructive poaching of fish and wildlife that must be controlled.” Dr. F. Eugene Hester, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, during the 1981 Senate hearing on the Lacey Act Amendments

“WWF believes that responsible forest management is not only good for the environment, but can be a sound business objective. WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) proves it can be done: Spanning the globe, our network links environmentally responsible producers and suppliers with equally responsible buyers, creating change in the forest product industry at the core of the global market.” Source: World Wildlife Fund Website

Helpful Links

Second Consensus Statement of Importers, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Domestic Producers on Lacey Act Clarifications

World Wildlife Fund’s perspective on engaging honest businesses to preserve the world’s forests.

WWF’s Global and Trade Network website, with resources for businesses.

What Environmentalists and Businesses Supported in 2010

While there is an ongoing debate over whether a legislative or regulatory approach is the best way to fix the Lacey Act Amendments of 2008, since 2010, there has been consensus among disparate—oftentimes politically polar—parties that Lacey needs to be fixed. Here are some excerpts from the Second Consensus Statement on Lacey Act Clarifications (emphasis added):

Date of Manufacture:
The Lacey Act amendments should not apply to plant and plant products that were imported prior to the enactment of the amendments.

For many reasons, it is not consistently possible for importers to retroactively determine this information for plant material used in goods that were produced before the Lacey Act amendments were enacted. Antiques are particularly problematic because, by definition, they were manufactured or created many years ago.

To address the issue of pre-enactment harvest, the amendments should also not apply to finished wood products or parts thereof that are imported into the United States if the date of manufacture of those products occurred before the effective date of the amendments.

Composite materials:
Under current production methods, it is difficult, if not impossible, to declare the genus and species of wood used in certain composite products such as particle board or medium density fiberboard (MDF), because these products are often made from by-products left over from the manufacture and processing of other wood products.

While the APHIS guidance provides a short-term solution on composite materials, we support a clarification that composite materials (and components comprised of composites that are in other manufactured products) are currently excluded from the Lacey declaration requirement,

Species Groupings:
These groupings should be included in a digital, searchable database linked to APHIS pages, and a review process should be put in place to update groupings if necessary.

SIGNED BY (among many others):
Conservation International
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Investigation Agency
Global Witness
Greenpeace USA
Hardwood Federation
International Wood Products Association
The Nature Conservancy
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Alliance
Sierra Club
The Forest Trust (TFT)
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Wildlife Fund
US Chamber of Commerce

A look ahead

Join us in Indian Wells, California March 28-30, 2012 for the IWPA World of Wood Convention, which brings together more than 250 overseas manufacturers, North American importers and distributors and the leading ports and companies that facilitate international trade.

Highlighting the program this year is Gibson Guitar’s CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, and more than a dozen other speakers on subjects from the economy and international trade policy to business leaders from your key market segments. This year’s convention also features a half-day workshop specifically on Lacey Act compliance with tools and techniques you can use.

Learn more or register for IWPA's Convention 

What Next? What do we need from you?

As we have said before, the effort to improve the Lacey Act is going to be a long one, and in time we will need your active support and participation in conjunction with our outreach to Members of Congress. Until then, please use this publication and the information provided to inform your customers, your suppliers, your friends and your neighbors. Refer to our website for updates, and send anyone our way who wants to know more about our actions to protect the integrity and improve the functioning of Lacey. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated. And your continued support is greatly appreciated.

[Back to Lacey Act & You Main Page]

The Lacey Act and You bulletins are published through our voluntary Special Projects Fund. Please contact Cindy Squires for more information on how to support IWPA’s Special Projects.

Helpful Links
Special Projects

The Lacey Act & You bulletins are published through IWPA's voluntary Special Projects Fund. Please contact Cindy Squires for more information. Special Projects. Contributors to date: 

  • Alan McIlvain Company
  • American Pacific Inc
  • Argo Fine Imports Inc.
  • Baillie Lumber Co.
  • Elizabeth Baldwin
  • Bridewell Resources
  • Brookside Veneers Ltd.
  • Clarke Veneers & Plywood
  • Columbia Forest Products
  • Holland SW International
  • IHLO Sales & Import Co
  • International Specialties Inc
  • John A. Steer Co.
  • Liberty Woods International
  • Newman Lumber Co.
  • Pollmeier Inc.
  • PRS Guitars
  • Robert Weed Plywood Corp.
  • South Jersey Port Corp.
  • Spartan Sources
  • Tradelink Wood Products
  • UCS Forest Group
  • VM International
  • Wood Brokerage International


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