Making sure that those in every sector of the lumber industry are following environmentally responsible guidelines just makes sense. After all, since trees are the natural resource which our entire industry depends on to be able to survive and thrive, it’s in our best interests, not to mention the best interests of the planet, to make sure trees are being grown and harvested in a sustainable manner.
If you’re like many in the industry, you may have assumed that having certain standard certifications would guarantee sustainability and you wouldn’t have anything to worry about concerning the legality of your business. If you fall into that category, pay attention to the information in these two articles. It may help you to avoid some major legal headaches, as well as keep you from inadvertently perpetuating irresponsible and environmentally damaging forestry practices.
A number of years ago, the Gibson Guitar factory was the subject of a raid of the United States Justice Department, because they were using wood that was illegally obtained to make their instruments. This is in spite of the fact that the wood had received certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Many companies that use imported wood in manufacturing goods, or lumber dealers who sell imported wood, might be under the impression that all FSC wood is legal. This isn’t the case.
Also of note is the fact that Gibson had Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) documentation on the wood that was under scrutiny. This serious legal situation left many in the industries that import exotic wood species wondering if their operations were completely legal and above board. The Justice Department’s Environmental Investigation Agency actually doesn’t consider these two forms of certification wholly adequate to prove the legality of imported wood, especially if that wood is on an endangered species list.
Keeping a working relationship with overseas lumber mills begins with verifying sustainable practices. If you’re a lumber dealer, in order to make sure that the mills you work with are operating according to international legal agreements, you should seek out those mills that follow reputable verification programs. As Gibson Guitars found out the hard way, the FSC certification isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of determining the sustainability and legality of imported wood.
Just Having an FSC Stamp Doesn’t Mean it’s Sustainable and Legal
The main purpose of the FSC is to certify forests to offer consumers and governmental agencies reassurance that trees are being grown in an environmentally responsible manner. However, the FSC’s oversight isn’t sufficient to monitor what happens to the trees after they are cut down and processed in preparation to be shipped overseas. A verification system can add an extra level of scrutiny to the process and help to make sure you’re legally covered when it comes to the lumber imported by your business.
In our second article in this series, we’ll take a look at three different verification systems that can help to guard you against facing any legality issues when it comes to exotic lumber imports. Not only can seeking out this type of verification offer you peace of mind, but it can also contribute to the long term viability of our entire industry.