The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has released a document to dispel common myths related to the 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act, which makes it possible for the United States to support efforts to combat illegal logging both abroad and at home.
The Lacey Act makes it so that any wood that is harvested illegally in its native country now comes under domestic law and “anyone who imported, exported, transported, sold, received, acquired or purchased the wood products made from that illegal timber, who knew or should have known that the wood was illegal, may be prosecuted for violation of the Lacey Act,” according to the International Tropical Timber Organization.
Of course, such a law raises questions and difficulties among companies purchasing wood abroad. However, the EIA assures companies that it is very possible to comply with the Lacey Act.
For example, one ‘myth’ the document highlights is the criticism that it is impossible to know if someone down the supply chain is truly compliant with the Lacey Act. The EIA responds with these recommendations: “Know your supply chain and know your suppliers. Use suppliers you know and trust. Ask your suppliers if they know and trust their suppliers. Check with your colleagues in the industry and see who they trust (or who they do not trust). Establish long-term relationships rather than buying on spot markets. Make site visits if possible, do independent research on-line and through your business contacts, and ask tough questions.”
In response to the myth that illegal logging could not possibly be that big of an issue, the EIA says that “at least 10 percent of annual wood imports to the U.S. are estimated to be of illegal origin3. Illegal logging rates and practices vary dramatically by exporting country and species; as much as 80 percent of some countries’ wood products are estimated to be illegally harvested.”
The EIA further states that simply avoiding nations where illegal logging is rife, does not in any way guarantee that one will avoid illegal logging: “no matter what country you source from, including the United States or Canada, you should know—and be able to substantiate—as much as possible about the wood material’s origin.”
In addition, companies must also know and label using the correct scientific name of a species, failure to do so can lead to prosecution under more than just the Lacey Act.
“A buyer who does not know the scientific name of the wood product s/he is purchasing cannot always be sure s/he is not violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES) or other laws that protect endangered species,” according to the EIA.
Since compliance with the Lacey Act is determined under the legal definition ‘due care’, which means the “degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the
same or similar circumstances,” the EIA advises a few ways in which companies can show they have practiced due care, including detailed record-keeping, on-site investigations of suppliers, employee training, confirming that suppliers are certified in their home country, and developing a compliance plan.
According to the EIA there are a number ‘red-flags’ that a supplier may be selling illegal wood, including products priced lower than market value, cash-only payments, bribery, and poor labeling of products.
To see the full document provided by the EIA: http://www.eia-global.org/PDF/Report–Mythbusters–forest–Jan10.pdf
(11/19/2009) Federal agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raided Gibson Guitar’s factory Tuesday afternoon, due to concerns that the company had been using illegally harvested wood from Madagascar, reports the Nashville Post.
(03/11/2009) Enacted in 1900 by William F. McKinley the Lacey Act is the oldest wildlife protection law in the US; for a over a century it has protected animals from being illegally hunted and trafficked. An amendment made last year has now extended the law to protect plants for the first time, making it possible for the US to support efforts abroad and at home to combat illegal logging.
(01/11/2010) While Madagascar’s current government has drawn sharp criticism from the international community for its failure to prevent the environmental destruction of recent months, France, Holland, Morocco, and the World Bank have all been implicated in financing illegal logging operations in Madagascar’s national parks over the past year. Even as foreign governments condemned the surge in illegal logging last year, many–either directly or through institutions they support–are shareholders in the very banks that have financed the export of illegal lumber from Madagascar’s SAVA region. The Bank of Africa Madagascar, for instance, is part owned by Proparco, a subsidiary of the Agence Française du Développement, as well as the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, Dutch development bank FMO, and the Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur. Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais, both part-owned by the French government, have also provided loans to illegal timber traders.
(01/11/2010) Madagascar has legalized the export of rosewood logs, possibly ushering in renewed logging of the country’s embattled rainforest parks. The transitional authority led by president Andry Rajoelina, who seized power during a military coup last March, today released a decree that allows the export of rosewood logs harvested from the Indian Ocean island’s national parks. The move comes despite international outcry over the destruction of Madagascar’s rainforests for the rosewood trade. The acceleration of logging since the March coup has been accompanied by a rise in commercial bushmeat trafficking of endangered lemurs.
(01/02/2010) Sierra Leone has banned the transport and export of logs in an effort to crack down on illegal logging, reports AFP.
(12/18/2009) One of the main drivers of tropical deforestation is western consumption of hardwoods, more durable and weather-resistant than softwoods. For example, hardwood harvested in Southeast Asia—both legally and illegally obtained—often makes its way to China where it is crafted into cheap outdoor-ready hardwood products, which is then sold to the world’s wealthy nations, such as the United States and countries in the EU. The trade releases significant greenhouse gases, threatens indigenous groups, and imperils the region’s biodiversity. Yet a new product, apart of an art installation at the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, may have the capacity to stem the loss of tropical forests for hardwoods.
(09/08/2009) While you’re browsing the mall for running shoes, the Amazon rainforest is probably the farthest thing from your mind. Perhaps it shouldn’t be. The globalization of commodity supply chains has created links between consumer products and distant ecosystems like the Amazon. Shoes sold in downtown Manhattan may have been assembled in Vietnam using leather supplied from a Brazilian processor that subcontracted to a rancher in the Amazon. But while demand for these products is currently driving environmental degradation, this connection may also hold the key to slowing the destruction of Earth’s largest rainforest.
(07/12/2009) A Brazilian federal prosecutor is leading an investigation into charges that illegal timber from the state of Pará is being laundered as “eco-certified” wood and exported to markets in the United States, Europe, and Asia, reports Sunday’s edition of O Globo.
(05/11/2009) The Republic of Congo and the EU have announced a new system to ensure that by 2011 no illegal timber will reach European Union member nations from the Republic of Congo. Under the system all wood products will be required to carry a license showing that the timber was obtained legally.
(12/18/2008) A researcher is using carbon and oxygen isotopes to track
the origin of timber as part of a worldwide effort to develop methods
to combat illegal logging.
(12/12/2008) Computer hackers are helping illegal loggers destroy the Amazon rainforest by breaking into the Brazilian government’s timber tracking system and altering the records so as to increase logging allocations, reports Greenpeace.