Government lumber regulations can be complex but are vitally essential.
Even though no one likes the added paperwork and sometimes confusing process of keeping up with government regulations, when it comes to the lumber industry, it’s easy to see the far-reaching, industry-wide benefits of CITES and other groups.
We’ve come to realize that governmental regulations change — and will continue to change — the way we do business. The good news for you is that the current policies put the lion’s share of responsibility on us, as an Importer of Record, but it’s still a good thing for our customers to understand. For us, “due diligence” includes continually researching environmental concerns as well as alternative sources and species, when favorites become endangered, cost prohibitive, or entirely unavailable.
Even without government regulations, as a lumber importer and supplier, we have a vested interest in sustainability and renewability. Of course, regulations for sawmills and exporting aid in those key issues, making them truly work in our best interest — as well as yours, if you’re a builder or craftsman who depends on lumber to make a living. Each country has its own governmental department designed to regulate forest usage. While many governments more tightly monitor their forests than does the U.S. government, each country has its own process in place.
In South America, for example, most governments hold strict policies regarding the need for logging companies to provide managed forestry plans in order to be given land concessions. Detailed plans including individual trees to be harvested and approved replanting ratios must be submitted and approved before logging can begin. (Ironically, the documentation required for such plans means a literal paper trail that costs the forests many extra trees.)
Despite all the care taken to ensure proper forestry management, some species still endure over-harvesting, which leads to shortages and environmental concerns; that’s where CITES comes in.
CITES, or The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, is a global organization that focuses on endangered species and regulates trade in a way that promotes future viability of such species. The 3 appendices of CITES name various species of fauna and flora subject to extra regulation. The species listed on Appendix I are nearly impossible to trade legally, due to the high threat of their extinction. Appendix II species require careful trade limitations in order to help them keep from becoming subject to the Appendix I list. Appendix III includes species unprotected in certain countries that have asked CITES to aid in their regulation.
For lumber mills and exporters, CITES requirements include documentation detailing each step from forest to port. Each country’s individual CITES department reports to the international CITES headquarters in Geneva, allowing each species’ trade and projected sustainability to be evaluated.
What does this mean for you, the customer? You need to ask your supplier about their documentation. If your supplier sells you illegally harvested or imported lumber, everyone in the supply chain can be held accountable, and that includes you, the customer. At J. Gibson McIlvain, we take extra care in forging relationships with trusted suppliers across the globe while carefully re-evaluating them on a consistent basis.