The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has sent out a request for public comments on the implementation of the Lacey Act amendment. The deadline to submit comments is April 14, 2011. APHIS is soliciting these comments in preparation for its official report to Congress. Their report must evaluate the Lacey Act declaration requirement; the potential to harmonize the declaration with other applicable import regulations; the cost of preparing and submitting the declaration; and analyze the act's impact on illegal logging and trade.

Since Lacey is in the news again, I thought I'd post a few legality resources.

APHIS is responsible for collecting the Lacey import declarations. The APHIS website offers the official government position on Lacey and the requirements.

The International Wood Products Association (IWPA) has a due diligence package to assist their members and additional information on ensuring legality available for both members and non-members to download. Be sure to check out their Q&A Guides.

The World Wildlife Fund is an extremely well known environmental organization that promotes the responsible use of the world's resources. Their program, the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) is designed to network responsible companies and to eliminate illegal logging. Joining their program would provide a great deal of support for your company's work in verifying your sourcing. They also have a number of excellent online guides including a new interactive Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing.

WRI's Sustainable Procurement of Forest Products: This is an excellent resource with guides for legal sourcing and examples of documentation. Two very comprehensive guides on "Keeping it Legal" are available free. The WRI is also leading a group called the Forest Legality Alliance, which is developing online tools for legality management.

The Global Forest Registry is a great online resource for determining risk.

Expect more legality resources to be available in the future. Many groups are developing guides to make it easier for the international legal timber trade to expand. And as they do, U.S. consumers can grow ever more confident that their purchases of imported wood are legal and are helping develop the international economy and protect forests around the world.

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.'")