Today’s lumber industry makes environmental sustainability of our renewable resources of prime importance, and since we rely on the continual availability of lumber, we have always made that one of our core values as well. We also keep up with the governmental regulations of the various parts of the world from which we export lumber. One of the regulating bodies you may find helpful to understand yourself as a customer is CITES.
Introduction to CITES
CITES is an acronym that stands for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. According to the CITES website, the organization’s basic function is to provide “varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.” CITES is best known for its three appendices, or lists, naming flora and fauna whose harvesting and trade is regulated to various degrees in order to encourage future viability.
Appendix I contains the most highly regulated species; with extinction a threat, trade of the species listed is allowed only for scientific purposes. Appendix II lists species that aren’t currently banned but are carefully watched in order to keep them from becoming endangered. Appendix III lists species that particular countries have requested help protecting and therefore are regulated on the global level by CITES.
Practical Effects of CITES
When it comes to the lumber industry, CITES regulations have had a major effect on our day-to-day functions. And as a customer, they affect you too. As important as they are, the increased regulation provides added hurdles even for those desiring to make environmentally sound choices. As an Importer of Record, J. Gibson McIlvain makes it our business to remain aware of any changing regulations and where responsibilities and liabilities lie. We also stay abreast of environmental concerns as well as shifts in availability so we can recommend alternative species to our customers when appropriate.
Under CITES, both mills and export companies must document every aspect of a log’s supply chain from harvest to port. After careful monitoring, should CITES determine that sustainability is threatened, it has the power to reduce export quotas or even place the species on Appendix I, eliminating the possibility of legal export.
Your Part in CITES
The documentation that relates to each log and board is available for all those along the supply chain — all the way to the end-use customer (that’s you). If you think it really doesn’t matter to you, think again: every member of the supply chain can be held liable for any infringement of regulations. Your supplier is required to have the documentation available but is not required to offer it to customers. An ideal importer will foster long-term relationships with lumber mills and exporters, verifying and visiting them often to ensure that they continually use legal and responsible forestry practices.
J. Gibson McIlvain carefully examines each sawmill with which we consider doing business; once a relationship is begun, we continually monitor the harvesting and exporting practices of any sawmills with which we actively conduct business.