MEMPHIS, TN — The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), an international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry, on Dec. 3 released the findings of its independent research study Assessment of Lawful Harvesting and Sustainability of U.S. Hardwood Exports during the 2008 National Hardwood Lumber Assn.’s (NHLA) Annual Convention & Exhibit Showcase in San Francisco.

The research and report was commissioned by AHEC in response to the increasing global demand for verified legal and sustainable forest products. In certain export markets, most notably in Europe and Japan, government procurement policies and private purchasers are requiring that wood products be shown to be from legal and sustainable sources.

The study, conducted by a team of international experts and led by Alberto Goetzl, of Seneca Creek Associates LLC, confirms that:

•  U.S. hardwoods derive from legal and well managed forests.
•  Hardwood procured from anywhere in the hardwood states could be considered low risk in all five Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) risk categories.
•  There exists a low risk that U.S. hardwoods are produced from controversial sources as defined in the Chain of Custody standard of the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
•  All states in the U.S. hardwood-producing region can be considered low risk for illegal and non-sustainable hardwood sourcing.
•  Given the safety-net of national and state regulations and programs that address unlawful conduct and faulty forest practices, the need for traceability, independent chain of custody and/or controlled wood certification to demonstrate legality should not be a crucial consideration for U.S. sourcing of hardwood products.

“It’s clear from the study that North American hardwoods are the preferred material for buyers seeking sustainable and legal building materials,” said Mark Barford, executive director of NHLA. “Hardwood trees grown in North America have minimal impact on the land, and are harvested under a myriad of rules and regulations that ensure consumers a legal and sustainable supply of lumber.”

The full research report is available at www.ahec–

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.