22 Sep 2011

LACEY ACT WINS WORLD FUTURE COUNCIL AWARD

The Lacey Act, US legislation aimed at controlling the importation of illegally harvested wood, was a winner at the 2011 World Future Council‘s Future Policy Awards.

The Future Policy Award provides valuable international recognition of the Lacey Act as one of the world’s most inspiring and innovative forest policies.

This recognition comes at a time when the Lacey Act is under pressure from a coalition of musicians, instrument manufacturers and right-wing politicians and commentators as a result of the on-going investigation of Gibson guitars under the Lacey Act.

Neil Bridgland, Sound & Fair Campaign Manager, said: “It’s a real shame that the Lacey Act has become so politicised when it’s doing the job it was designed to do: force wood importers to a pay full attention to their supply chains and implement responsible purchasing policies.

In the past, few manufacturers were concerned with where wood came from, how it was harvested, were the correct fees paid, just as long as the quality was OK.

“The Gibson case is a game changer for the music industry and about time too.”

Environmental Investigation Agency Executive Director, Alexander von Bismarck, described the Lacey Act as: “a landmark act that has had such an extraordinary effect on the ongoing battle against illegal logging.

“With the Lacey Act, the US is closing the door on illegal wood, and sending a huge signal that our market power will support both good governance and forest protection”.

The amended Lacey Act is the first law in the world to prohibit trade in wood products made from trees that were illegally harvested.

As a result of the international effort to curb trade in illegal logging, the practice is estimated to have decreased by over 20% worldwide.

The Lacey Act of 1900 focused on wildlife trade and has been a leading tool in efforts to control smuggling of products derived from endangered species. The 2008 amendment added plants to this law, which made it applicable to the one trillion dollar global wood products industry.

The first enforcement action under the new law occurred in 2009, when a search warrant was executed on Gibson Guitars to investigate the import of ebony and rosewood from Madagascar.

Madagascar was at the time shown to be losing up to 300 trees a day from its national parks, the last habitat for unique species of Lemurs, birds, and chameleons.