|For those of us who love music and guitars it has become increasingly important in recent years, much more so than in the past, to do all that we can to protect and preserve the world’s forests from illegal logging. If our great-great grandchildren are to enjoy the beautiful guitars that we enjoy today then only legal and sustainable foresting methods can be utilized. In recent years there has been an increase in illegal logging of protected forests, and now individuals, governments and businesses are joining their efforts to reduce the damaging effects caused by illegal logging of protected trees. In some areas of the world up to 85% of mature trees have been removed, inviting questions about regeneration capability and genetic loss.
If we look at the soundboard of a guitar and count the annular ring lines from the midline to the edge of the lower bout and add about 20%, we can estimate that we are looking at a part of the tree that lived for perhaps 150-300 years, often longer. With this in mind one can quickly understand the need to think long into the future if we want future generations to enjoy fine guitars as we are privileged to do today.
The Lacey Act was originally created by Congressman Lacey to protect birds from intentional illegal activity, and it was later expanded to include other species of animals, and now plants as well. I agree, as I think we all do, that if we wish to preserve our forests and to provide sustainable woods for use in the future that we must support well-planned forestry policies and strong efforts to reduce illegal logging.
SO WHAT IS CLASSIC GUITARS INTERNATIONAL DOING ABOUT LACEY?
I am working with all the luthiers I am fortunate to represent, to further formalize and study their supply chains to prevent the admittance of illegal material. I am developing a complete database of material sources and am making sure that Lacey compliance is a formal part of Classic Guitars International’s ordering process and import documentation. I am working to schedule on-site visits of as many luthiers as possible to assist in this process as well as implementing other policies and procedures with the assistance of consultants I have retained who are specialists in matters relating to woods and the Lacey Act.
WHAT IS “LACEY?”
Lacey is short for The Lacey Act and it is not a new law. Over a hundred years old, the Lacey Act is America’s oldest national wildlife protection statute. It is named after Congressman John Lacey and was signed into law in 1900. It was originally written to protect game animals and birds. However it has been amended nearly a dozen times over the years, adding creatures such as non-game animals, fish and reptiles to the restricted list and better defining enforcement policies.
The 2008 Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president included an amendment to the Lacey Act which extends protection to plants and trees illegally harvested both inside and outside of the U.S. In addition, the Amendment mandates an extensive new reporting requirement for nearly all imported materials.
OK, WHAT DOES LACEY REALLY MEAN FOR BASIC BUSINESS?
There are two primary aspects of the law: 1) it is against the law to trade in or own illegally sourced animals/agricultural material regardless of their point of origin or the country in which the illegal action occurred, and 2) companies are required to provide detailed documentation on the source of imported agricultural products.
WHAT PRODUCTS DOES LACEY AFFECT?
It’s not just wood. Nearly 90% of all products in the US will be touched by Lacey. The range of goods affected is very broad, including not only raw and finished wood products, but also paper goods, musical instruments, items with wooden handles, many textiles, pharmaceuticals and more.
It is important to note that the Lacey Act requirements also govern wood products coming in from Canada. While many people seem to think they do not apply because of NAFTA, Canada is still technically a foreign country. Canadian production will need to be documented just like Chinese material and all other imports.
Lacey also applies to wood of US origin (logs or lumber) that has been exported.
WHEN DOES LACEY TAKE EFFECT?
It’s in effect now. As of May 22, 2008, it is against US law to trade in any illegally harvested agricultural product. However, most people are defining the start date as when the import documentation is required to start April 1, 2010.
IS THERE A REAL RISK TO BUYING IMPORTED WOODS?
The risk is absolutely minimal. In terms of Classic Guitars International these issues are not a problem as I never knowingly acquire guitars that use illegal wood.