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The Lacey Act Revisited

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U.S.A flagIt’s now almost five years since the US Lacey Act amendments concerning the procurement of illegally timber products, has come into effect.  Building on a 1900 that has long been a powerful tool in combating wildlife crime, the May 22, 2008 amendment expands the scope of the lacey act to:

  • Prohibit trade in plants and plant products, including furniture, paper, and lumber, that have been illegally sourced from any U.S. state o foreign country.
  • Requires importers to declare the country of origin of harvest and species name of all plants contained in their products, and,
  • Establishes penalties for violations of the law, including forfeiture of goods and vessels, fines, and jail time.

Any confusion which may have initially existed regarding the implications of the Lacey Act, has largely been resolved.

The first cases, most notably the case against the iconic Gibson Guitar Corporation, have been resolved and have been widely publicized.  

Importers no longer have legitimate excuses for not exercising “due care” and a variety of organizations (including TFF) operating in producer countries, offer services to assist exporters/importers to comply with declaration requirements and to establish sourcing policies and partners to achieve compliance with “due care” guidelines.

For composite products from tropical countries such as Indonesia, the species declaration requirements remain a challenge.  Efforts are now under way to propose acceptable species groupings for some of the commonly recognize products such as “meranti plywood”.

For more information on the Lacey Act, visit www.eia-global.org/lacey or www.SustainableForestProds.org.  For the most up-to-date information on implementation of Lacey Act declaration obligations, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act/