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Lacey Act

Information on the updated Lacey Act

The Lacey Act

Originally established in 1900 the Lacey act aimed to stop the trafficking of a range of wildlife and wild plants. Previously, the Lacey Act only covered plants native to the United States which are listed in one of three appendices to CITES or protected by the law of a US state.

On the 22nd May 2008 the Lacey Act was amended to include illegally logged timber. It now makes it unlawful to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken in violation of the laws of a U.S. State, or any foreign law that protects plants. The Lacey Act also makes it unlawful to make or submit any false record, account or label for, or any false identification of, any plant. This law, makes it a requirement to exercise due diligence on the part of importers into the USA, as a lack of knowledge will not be permissible.

Anyone who imports into the United States, or exports out of the United States, illegally harvested plants or products made from illegally harvested plants, including timber, as well as anyone who exports, transports, sells, receives, acquires or purchases such products in the United States, may be prosecuted. The key to avoiding or minimizing penalties under the Lacey Act is exercising due diligence in the sourcing of wood inputs.

Fundamental to the implementation of the Lacey Act is a new system whereby importers are required to complete import declarations. An electronic system is being created for collecting the declaration data. Once this is in place enforcement of the declaration will be phased in between April 1st 2009 and July 1st 2009. Importers must file a declaration upon importation that contains the scientific name of the plant, the value of the importation, the quantity of the plant, and the name of the country from which the plant was taken.

Useful Links

Illegal Logging website. Useful documents library

US Government factsheet

Timber Trade Federation website.

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