As we discussed in a previous post, the lumber industry is not the culprit many people assume it to be when it comes to deforestation. While the lumber industry does contribute to 2-3% of deforestation along the Amazon, logging bans essentially contribute to at least 85% of it! As a lumber importer of record, J. Gibson McIlvain is extremely serious about ensuring that our customers receive only lumber that’s legally and sustainably harvested in a responsible way. And that starts with forestry management.
Presence of Responsible Forestry Management Practices
Each country has its own department responsible for regulating its forests — and many governments actually regulate their forests more tightly than does the U.S. Some governments grant lumber companies long-term leases of logging land. In fact, in many South American nations strict regulations require logging companies to provide extensive plans for forestry management in order to be granted a land concession. In order to be approved, such plans are required to detail each tree that will be cut down — as well as what will replace it — before logging is allowed to begin. As you can imagine, documenting such details requires quite the paper trail! These regulations allow us to easily follow the train of custody back to precisely where, when, and how a given tree has been harvested.
Place of CITES Regulations
You’ve probably heard about the unusual situation of species that end up being overharvested. Although rare, such situations can still arise. CITES, which is an acronym for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, is a global organization that identifies and regulates trade of any threatened lumber species (in addition to other flora and fauna) in order to help protect them. CITES has three appendices that classify at-risk species:
- Appendix I lists those that are dangerously close to extinction, making trade allowable only for scientific purposes, rather than for any commercial uses.
- Appendix II lists species that are threatened but not endangered; they are highly regulated in order to prevent their becoming endangered.
- Appendix III is country-specific, listing those species that certain countries have asked CITES to help regulate.
Details of CITES Regulations
Lumber species listed in Appendix II or III of CITES must be documented by lumber mills and export companies from the point of harvesting to the point of export. The appropriate country’s CITES department reports their findings to the CITES headquarters, which is located in Geneva, outlining the way each listed species meets with the CITES regulations. The appropriate documentation is required to be visible to all those along the supply chain, potentially reducing future export quotas.
Now that you understand more about the way lumber is regulated and how that relates to the sustainability of forests, you might still be wondering how you can make sure that the lumber you order is legally and responsibly harvested. After all, you don’t want to have to travel across the globe to supervise the entire process! Read on to our final post, to find out what you can do.