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Is Your Company Prepared for the Lacey Act?

A recent U.S. government raid on illegally sourced wood is a wake-up call to businesses.

On November 17, 2009, U.S. federal agents raided Gibson Guitar Corporation’s manufacturing facility in Nashville, Tennessee. The raid was part of an investigation into the illegal trade of a rare wood species allegedly used in some of Gibson’s renowned musical instruments.

According to press reports, agents purportedly seized wood, guitars, and documents in the first known enforcement action under the recently amended Lacey Act. Widely covered in the media, the raid is a wake-up call to businesses that are part of forest product supply chains that they need to heed the Lacey Act and avoid illegally sourced wood and paper.

Illegal logging – timber harvesting that breaks a country’s national laws - squanders approximately US $15 billion of assets and revenue for developing nations each year and is a driver of deforestation. As the single largest consumer and importer of forest products, the United States has the capacity to reduce illegal logging practices on a global scale.

On May 22, 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a landmark amendment to the 100 year-old Lacey Act, originally enacted to prohibit the transportation of illegally captured animals or wildlife products across state lines. The new law extended this protection to plants - including timber, paper, and other forest products - thereby giving the U.S. government a powerful tool to eliminate illegally sourced wood and increase transparency in the global forest product supply chain.

The November Gibson raid is the first high profile amended Lacey Act investigation, demonstrating that the U.S. government is taking illegal logging seriously - and that companies in both the United States and abroad need to already be in compliance.

In partnership with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the World Resources Institute (WRI) has released a Lacey Act fact sheet designed to answer some frequently asked questions about the Lacey Act.

The four-page fact sheet, Are You Ready for the Lacey Act?, provides companies with answers and counsel on a suite of issues, including:

  • What does the Lacey Act entail?
  • What is considered “illegal” under the amended Lacey Act?
  • What risks do buyers, traders, and sellers of wood, paper, and other forest products face if they violate the Lacey Act?
  • What can companies do to avoid becoming the subject of a Lacey Act investigation?
  • Does certification mean that a forest product is exempt or already in compliance with the amended Lacey Act?

For more information, download the fact sheet, or contact:

  • Adam Grant, Senior Associate, WRI, agrant@wri.org, (202) 729-7623
  • Lars Laestadius, Senior Associate, WRI, larsl@wri.org, (202) 729-7633
  • Anne Middleton, Outreach Coordinator, EIA, anne@eia-international.org, (202) 483-6621

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