Be aware that Lacey Act legislation applies to all lumber species, not just those protected by CITES. If the offending party is not in the U.S., the Lacey Act may be unable to hold them accountable; however, if you’re the first player in the U.S., you may be the one prosecuted.
Lacey Act Clarification from an Unlikely Source
If you know one single thing about the Lacey Act, you know that it allows anyone along the supply chain to be held accountable for illegal harvesting practices — no matter how far down the line you are. One of the phrases used in the legislation that seems open to quite a bit of interpretation is that of “due diligence.” What, exactly, does that entail? How much diligence is enough? Since unlike international CITES regulations, the Lacey Act applies only in the U.S., clarification has come from an unlikely source: Europe — the European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR), to be more precise.
EUTR Legislation Overview
The EUTR legislation we’re considering here went into effect in March 2013, and it’s essentially the European counterpart to the U.S. Lacey Act. Of course, there are some differences between the two. Unlike the Lacey Act, the EUTR does recognize lumber carrying FLEGT or CITES permits as automatically being in compliance. It also considers verifications and certifications not as completely fulfilling the requirement for “due diligence,” but at least as a step along that process; by contrast, Lacey Act requirements essentially negate such designations as completely irrelevant.
Despite the differences between the U.S. and European legislation, the EUTR provides some helpful details that can help inform those wishing Lacey Act legislation included a little more clarification, specifically by outlining a recommended Due Diligence System, or DDS. Think of it as being similar to a precedent from another case used in a court of law; although it may not bring an iron-clad verdict, it can certainly help you make your case.
Elements of an EUTR-Compliant DDS
The EUTR lists three basic elements that a DDS needs to include in order to be compliant. First, it must provide access to information. This requirement specifically relates to lumber importers and distributors, who must provide information regarding a supply chain upon request.
Examples of the information they must make accessible includes an accurate description of the product, including its botanical and trade names, the country and region from which it was harvested (along with any applicable land concessions), precise quantity, and name and contact information for the lumber supplier.
The other two elements of a complaint DDS are risk assessment and risk mitigation; we’ll examine them in Part 2, along with exactly how an EUTR-compliant DDS relates to Lacey Act compliance in the U.S.