Earlier I talked about Green Lanes and SRAs. SRA is a "Spatial Risk Assessment" and within our industry, it is normally defined generally as the assignment of risk based only on geographic location. Most people would agree that a U.S. hardwood would be considered "low risk" using an SRA.

A strict SRA does not consider anything other than the source location-it doesn't look at the company supplying the product or their certifications or anything else. Just "they are based in X location and X has a higher or lower risk analysis based on ABC factors."

One of the problems with SRAs within our industry is that we don't have any official ones based on governmental analysis. ENGO's have created many types of SRAs, many of which are quite well thought out, but none of which are officially recognized as absolute.

Personally I don't believe that an SRA is the only valid way to look at risk. It's one of many tools, and I think in many cases it can be overemphasized, with very good companies being blacklisted only because they are located in what is considered a high-risk region. In fact, it is possible that too much emphasis on geographic risk assessment can be a huge negative to the local forests, since it can hurt those companies trying to do it right.

That said, it is certainly one of many valid tools to assess risk, and if the U.S. government can provide the analysis to aid importers-and domestic producers-it would be great. As Lacey could be a real help to the industry at large. However, for both SRAs and green lanes, I would like to see work done on the governmental level.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")