Making Sure Your Lumber is Legal

Illegal wood is a problem that affects all of us. As a buyer, you need a way to know that the wood you are purchasing is, in fact, legally harvested. FSC certification once provided that guarantee, but recent events have caused people to wonder.

In 2011, the Justice Department raided Gibson Guitar Company. In the process of the raid, the government seized shipments of lumber that were believed to be illegally obtained. The company lost millions of dollars, yet the wood in this particular case was FSC certified. It also had all required CITES documentation. Still, the government determined that the lumber was illegally obtained.

So how can those in the market for wood protect themselves? First, they need to realize that the FSC stamp may not provide the full protection they need. The FSC certifies forests, not the harvesting and processing of the wood. FSC certification simply means that the forests are healthy and thriving.

Because we want to be aboveboard, J. Gibson McIlvain  looks for suppliers that offer more than just the FSC guarantee. The Timber Legality and Traceability Verification (TLTV) is one of these. This certification is overseen by the Societe Generale de Serveillance (SGS), and through regular audits and continued monitoring, the SGS verifies a company’s wood production and also its tracking information. This is so thorough that it literally tracks everything a lumber mill does, and this easily weeds out illegal practices. Basically, TLTV takes over in verifying the legality of the wood once it leaves the forest and the protection of FSC oversight.

Harvest, process and export are not all that needs to be overseen, however. Sometimes, companies can legally process and export a tree, without having the legal right to harvest it in the first place. This is where Verification of Legal Origin (VLO), a verification shows that a lumberyard has the right to harvest the tree, comes into play. VLO certification follows the paper trail that proves what forest the wood came from. This does overlap with the FSC certification to some extent, but the added protection is ideal for those companies who want to be certain that they are above reproach.

We also pursue wood with Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC). This looks at the way in which the tree is harvested and makes sure that it is legal. VLC takes into account state and local laws about forestry, which helps to ensure that valuable hardwoods continue to thrive. In most instances, wood with VLC certification is harvested in a low impact way.

In the United States, most companies and consumers rely on FSC certification. While this is good, it may not be enough. Therefore, lumber industry leader McIlvain Company also relies on TLTV, VLO, and VLC to provide consumers and suppliers with further options to ensure the wood they are buying and selling is, in fact, legal.

For over 200 years, McIlvain has been a top player in the lumber wholesale business.  With our centuries of experience, the unmatched expertise of our dedicated order specialists, our vast inventory of domestic and exotic hardwoods and softwoods, our in-house millwork capabilities, and our newly introduced plywood selection, it’s no wonder that we’ve been one of America’s favorite lumber wholesalers since 1798. We offer the highest quality lumber in the business and serve some of the world’s most discerning customers, and  our nationwide shipping ensures that your top quality lumber will arrive on your job site on schedule. For more information on what sets McIlvain apart or to request a free quote, visit our website today, or check out these selections from our lumber blog:

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