The Lacey Act
The Lacey Act is the oldest American wildlife protection statute. It was first enacted in 1900 with the propose of combating hunting practices to supply commercial markets, the killing of birds for feather trade, the shipment of unlawfully killed game and the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited animals across state lines.
On May 2008, the Lacey Act was modified to extend the protection to a wider variety of plants. This new addition to the act (section 8204) makes it illegal to traffic or commercialize, between states or internationally, any illegally source plants or plant products.
The Lacey Act and the Wood Industry:
The new amendments to the Lacey Act directly impact the wood industry because it prohibits the commercialization of any wood and other forest products that are harvested illegally. These new laws were implemented to help prevent illegal logging activities that tend to be harmful; activities that impoverish forest communities, destroy forests, watersheds and habitat, depress global timber prices, unfairly competes with legal production and trade and puts money in pockets of criminals.
Lacey Act Timeline:
The law stated that the declaration requirements would become effective in late 2008, but the US Government has stated that it will not enforce
the requirements until the spring of 2009. The government will be publishing updates regarding the
phase-in of the declaration requirements.
The New Requirements:
When the new act begins to be enforced, importers will be required to
declare the scientific name(s) of any timber contained in the shipment, the value of the importation, the
quantity of the wood product and the name of the country or countries from which the timber originated.
Importers will need to obtain this information from their suppliers, and the suppliers will need to keep track
of this information on file. The law does allow, at least initially, for exporters to list multiple likely countries of origin and/or possible species of the wood if that information is unknown. Shipments of wood that do not have the appropriate documentation at the time of entry into the United States would be deemed inadmissible.
The consequences for offenders who knowingly violate the law are considerable, and include civil and criminal penalties, as well as, the seizure and forfeiture of the product. Penalties range from $250 to to an excess of $500,000 with a possibility of jail sentence for knowingly sourcing, or failing to exercise due care when sourcing, products that contain illegal timber or plants.
What It All Means?
new regulations represent a severe increase in paperwork for most companies since they will have to maintain a much broader paper trail for all wood products sold or shipped into the United States. This may become especially difficult for companies who are not in direct contact with suppliers or who are simply reselling manufactured good (especially goods not initially intended for the USA).
Apart from the increased paper trail and documentation and the possible necessity to keep wood segregated, especially if using various suppliers, a financial cost will likely be seen. Even before this new act came into effect, the implications could be felt. For example real teak (not plantation ) is one of the wood species that is affected by this law. Teak has seen its price almost double in the last two years and it is becoming much harder to find as it is now near impossible to import.
Who knows what will be next?