Lumber importing, along with governmental regulations, helps keep the rainforests well-managed and thriving. While dealing with governmental regulations is chiefly an issue for importers of record, lumber customers should also be concerned about how those regulations impact them.
Forestry Management Across the Globe
Did you know that each individual country has its own governmental agency responsible for regulating forestry? In fact, most other countries more tightly regulate their forests than does the U.S. In many nations, the governing body is responsible to grant long-term leases of forested lands to lumber companies. In order for a company to qualify for such a lease, most South American nations actually require them to provide thorough plans for forestry management. While the U.S. does not have such requirements for land concessions, legally sourcing lumber from other countries includes making sure the sources are in compliance with their local governments.
South American Forestry Management
The forestry management plans which South American lumber companies need to provide are required to be so detailed that they include each individual tree they plan to cut down. Before they can begin logging, they must have their plans approved by their government and have the documentation to back it up. By the time a log has been cut down, it should have verification regarding where it came from, how and when it was logged, and what has been planted in its place. As you might guess, each tree ends up with a pretty long paper trail of documentation to ensure it has been logged legally and sustainably. While some species are still in danger of being over harvested, those are the exceptional cases where regulations such as CITES end up intervening.
Overview of International CITES Regulations
“CITES” stands for the “Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species,” an international organization that identifies endangered flora and fauna (including species of trees) and regulates their trade in order to promote their recovery and future. The three appendices categorize species based on the assessment of CITES regarding their level of endangerment, and as a result, the type of harvesting and trade legally allowable for them.
CITES Appendix I includes those species seen to be threatened by extinction. As you might expect, legal trade is extremely limited and allowed for scientific purposes only. Appendix II lists those species which are not yet threatened but considered to be close to being endangered species. In order to keep them from becoming candidates for Appendix I, only limited trade is allowed for these species, based on both market demand and current availability. Appendix III is a country-specific list of species requiring protection in order to continue to thrive in a particular country, as per the country’s request.
To learn more about how CITES keeps lumber companies accountable, check out Part 2.