Gibson Guitar settlement strikes chord with wood companies

Calls for More Scrutiny

Competitor C.F. Martin & Co., a guitar maker , based in Nazareth, Pa., has a radically different point of view.

"If anything, the Lacey Act's due care requirement has affirmed the practices that we, as a conscientious consumer, have had in place for many years," said vice president of business development Gregory Paul. About 60 percent of the company's products use tropical hardwood content such as rosewood, mahogany and ebony.

"While there is more time-consuming paperwork and inspection scrutiny to deal with," said Paul, "we're still pretty excited about the positive impacts that Lacey has had in driving focus and effort toward establishing a greater number of sustainable sources of material around the world."

The Act has already contributed to a 22 percent global decline in illegal logging, estimates the Environmental Investigation Agency, an international group that works to uncover environmental crimes. And, equally compelling from an economic point of view, it has helped boost demand for products from sustainably managed forests.

"The Lacey Act is a huge sucess story for creating jobs in America," said French of the Hardwood Federation.

Best Practices for Compliance

Of course, compliance is an ever-changing process, so C.F. Martin's methods have likewise changed with the times, Paul said.

For example, even though the guitar-maker has had a stringent review procedure for years, it has added more third-party verification and it now uses FSC certifications to guide sourcing. The company also spends more time visiting forests with its suppliers, Paul said.

"The FSC model appeals to us in particular because it focuses not just on the environmental aspects, but also the social and economic issues surrounding a resource as well," he said. "Creating an environmentally sound, economic value stream in a way that is respectful and affirming of the people who own the resource is the key to sustainability."

Anderson Hardwood Floors also relies on a responsible procurement program established by the National Wood Flooring Association that builds on FSC and requires independent audits of its sourcing practices.

The company manages one non-domestic species of wood that accounts for about 5 percent of its sales, and it has looked carefully at the paper trail of permits and certifications produced by its long-time trusted supplier, said Finkell. 

That has meant checking operating permits, maps of timber tracts, and manufacturing processes. There are three tiers of certification it requires:

  • First party, which is verification by the supplier and probably enough in countries of low risk.
  • Second party, which involves internal scrutiny by a company of its suppliers.
  • Third party, which requires independent verification for raw materials, offering the highest level of risk mitigation. 

"All of this we have done in response to the passage of the Lacey Act amendments in 2008," said Finkell. "Prior to that we operated on our company policy of not engaging in harmful environmental practices. With the passage of Lacey, we need to be able to document it to others if the need arises."