The Lumber Industry That’s Good for Rainforests, Part 2

air drying lumberIf you read Part 1, you understand the relationship between the lumber industry, the value of rain forests, and land owners’ decision-making process. While it is true that the lumber industry helps rain forests continue to thrive by giving them continued value, it’s also true that the industry hasn’t always been kind to the forests — or, by extension, to the ecosystem, at large.

Providing Extensive Documentation

Some call it ironic, while others think it to be suitable, but the documentation required for each stick of lumber that emerges from the rain forests is (almost literally) a mile long. Each board can be traced from harvest to port and is traced by each country’s individual CITES department, which then reports its findings to the CITES international headquarters located in Geneva, Switzerland.

forklift loading lumberThe documentation is required to be made available to all those in the supply chain and presented as each board is exported. Referred to as “non-detriment” reports, these findings describe the care provided for each species and how it lines up with CITES regulations. At any point, CITES could determine a species’ sustainability is threatened, and consequently decrease export quotas as drastically as they deem necessary, in order to protect the future of the species.

Finding Legally Harvested Lumber

If you’re going to be serious about purchasing only lumber that’s been legally harvested, you need to be proactive: You need to ask your supplier to see the documentation. Lumber suppliers, such as J. Gibson McIlvain, must carefully maintain thorough records on all imported lumber. While suppliers are not required to prove the legality of their lumber’s supply chain to each customer, they are obligated — whether by local government or by CITES — to keep supply chain documentation on file.

kiln for drying lumberIf a lumber supplier is serious about complying with the law, they’ll easily be able to provide proof, whenever asked. A responsible lumber supplier will form relationships with trusted suppliers and even provide on-site verification of international sources. And they won’t stop at what’s required by law, either. They’ll ensure that responsible forestry practices are being utilized, even when they aren’t legally required.

Realizing Your Personal Liability

With the advent of the Lacey Act, all those who are part of the supply chain can be held responsible for any illegally harvested lumber. As the world learned through the Gibson Guitars fiasco, the Lacey Act is no joke. Anyone who touches the wood at any point can be held responsible — from saw mills to importers, contractors to manufacturers, and even individual customers who purchase finished wood products.

As an Importer of Record,  J. Gibson McIlvain takes their responsibility seriously, as a responsibility to the law, to the forest, and to all those in the supply chain — including our valued customers. We’re happy to provide documentation and/or discuss the many ways we check up on our lumber sources, across the globe.

grading dried lumberJ. Gibson McIlvain Company

Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company ( is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.

As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.

Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.

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