More Than A Piece Of Wood… Piece Of Mind

Nov Issue

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Tropical Forest Products dives even deeper in new Environmental and Legal Compliance program

Tropical Forest Products has clearly defined and implemented controlled wood systems and procedures, specification language and programs that are designed to encourage the highest possible standards in environmental ethics.
Tropical Forest Products has clearly defined and implemented controlled wood systems and procedures, specification language and programs that are designed to encourage the highest possible standards in environmental ethics.

For any responsible company trading in wood products, both tropical or temperate, imported or domestic, this process starts with the development of clearly defined written, implemented and enforced Controlled Wood Policies and Procedures. That’s how the company verifies compliance with all international and domestic laws and regulations pertaining to the environmental, legal and ethical harvest, processing and trade of wood products.

At Tropical Forest Products, that’s exactly what we do: we support the protection of forests and the communities that depend on them. That’s why we established the Legal Lumber™ Due Care Compliance Program. An industry leading program that verifies timber legality through chain of custody auditing that tracks timber from the forest floor to the customer’s door, promotes the environmental benefits of wood, and supports the efforts of other organizations and laws committed to sustainability and the protection of human rights.

We firmly believe that the health of well managed forests and their benefit to the global community cannot be overstated.

Tropical Forest Products firmly believes that the health of well managed forests and their benefit to the global community cannot be overstated.
Tropical Forest Products firmly believes that the health of well managed forests and their benefit to the global community cannot be overstated.

It is also important for companies to encourage specifying individuals and agencies to adopt specification language which supports environmental accountability.

Tropical Forest Products has clearly defined and implemented controlled wood systems and procedures, specification language and programs that are designed to encourage the highest possible standards in environmental ethics.

There is however no one magic pill. The process starts with the compliance with International Laws and Regulations.

Tropical Forest Products established the Legal LumberTM Due Care Compliance Program – an industry leading program that verifies timber legality through chain of custody auditing that tracks timber from the forest floor to the customer’s door, promotes the environmental benefits of wood, and supports the efforts of other organizations and laws committed to sustainability and the protection of human rights.
Tropical Forest Products established the Legal LumberTM Due Care Compliance Program – an industry leading program that verifies timber legality through chain of custody auditing that tracks timber from the forest floor to the customer’s door, promotes the environmental benefits of wood, and supports the efforts of other organizations and laws committed to sustainability and the protection of human rights.

Lacey Act U.S. Federal Ban on the Trade of Illegally Harvested Plant and Forest Products – Enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with harsh financial and criminal penalties modeled after U.S. drug trafficking laws, the Lacey Act is a good example of individual ITTO member countries’ enactment and enforcement of domestic laws in support of International laws. The Lacey Act requires anyone participating in the commerce of wood and other agricultural products to exercise “Due Care” in the sourcing of the products they sell or use to verify that those products have been harvested and sourced legally. “Due Care” requires the use of the highest level of verification process available at the time of the transaction. It is a felony to be found in violation of this Due Care statute. Due Care includes but is not limited to the following laws. It is important to remember that the U.S. Lacey Act is both a foreign and domestic law addressing the legal trade of both foreign and domestic wood products and as such should be addressed in any wood or plant (yes it includes bamboo) specification.

The U.S. Lacey Act and programs like Tropical Forest Products’ Legal Lumber™ stand as the compliance benchmark for trading and specifying wood products.
The U.S. Lacey Act and programs like Tropical Forest Products’ Legal Lumber™ stand as the compliance benchmark for trading and specifying wood products.

CITES Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species – CITES was established to clearly identify any plant or animal species which fall into one of three appendixes or categories. Appendix I – Species threatened with extinction.


Appendix II – Species which may become threatened with extinction if not closely monitored. 

Appendix III – Species that are already being voluntarily regulated by a specific country of origin irrespective of Appendixes I or II.

ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) and ITTA (International Tropical Timber Agreement) – The ITTO as an organizational body made up of and overseen by the United Nations is made up of member countries who have signed an agreement to adopt and support CITES regulations. The process then moves on to compliance with Domestic Laws and Regulations.

At Tropical Forest Products, located in Mississauga, ON, we support the protection of forests and the communities that depend on them.
At Tropical Forest Products, located in Mississauga, ON, we support the protection of forests and the communities that depend on them.

U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – It is a felony to commit bribery or fraud in any form in an international transaction. This includes not only monies but exchanges of goods, services, favors or any other transaction of value.

 U.S. Forced Labor Laws – It is a felony to trade in any product in which forced labor or any form of slavery, child or adult has been used in the production, transport or any other act related to the sourcing of any goods or services.

U.S. Buy American Act –  The U.S Buy American Act requires that government agencies preference products sourced and or produced in the United States unless there is no products with equivalent qualities available domestically or if that product is required for historic preservation. Iron Woods fall into this category as there are no species of wood grown domestically which provide the performance characteristics associated with naturally durable tropical Hardwoods.

These International and Domestic Laws and Regulations, backed by implemented and audited systems and procedures, as well as independent environmental initiatives represent the Minimum standard of accountability under which Tropical’s Black Label™ brand products are sourced, processed, distributed and sold.

The process then moves to domestic initiatives and programs.

Tropical Forest Products is an FSC Chain of Custody certified company. That means we can trade in FSC certified forest products subject to their availability and market demand.
Tropical Forest Products is an FSC Chain of Custody certified company. That means we can trade in FSC certified forest products subject to their availability and market demand.

USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) and LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) – 
 Programs like the USGBC and LEED provide financial incentives in the form of tax relief for designing buildings which meet minimum environmental criteria in support of sustainability efforts.
 The process then moves to NGO’s (Non Government Organizations).

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) – The FSC developed Principles and Criteria for sustainable forest management. The adoption of which and participation in by forest products producers and distributors is completely voluntary. These Principles and Criteria have been created for both temperate and tropical, domestic and foreign forest management and if adopted should not be adopted selectively in favor of any country or species over any other.

The FSC and its approved certification bodies such as the Nepcon (formerly Rainforest Alliance SmartWood) and Scientific Certification Systems are third party NGO certification systems. These initiatives were developed in response to political pressures and these programs exist under the assumption that the general public will support additional cost of goods in exchange for NGO third party oversight of the forest products industry. As an example the FSC is currently the only third party certification body recognized by the USGBC. The use of FSC certified materials in LEED certified buildings is not mandatory however. LEED credits can be achieved through alternative material applications in a building construction.

Tropical Forest Products is an FSC Chain of Custody certified company. That means we can trade in FSC certified forest products subject to their availability and market demand. FSC certified availability and demand has been inconsistent, making it a challenge to predict market demand. Willingness to pay any premium for third party NGO oversight has been and continues to be very low and has in fact fallen off even further since the enactment of the U.S. Lacey Act in 2008.


As such FSC certified wood products are only sourced on a Special Order basis subject to availability.

So what do you do if FSC certified products are unavailable or cost prohibitive? This is exactly why the U.S. Lacey Act is so important. If you are not looking for LEED points, the U.S. Lacey act and programs like Legal Lumber™ stand as the compliance benchmark for trading and specifying wood products. 

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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