• seneca creek

C: U.S. hardwood producers possess and verify legal title and rights to timber

Key point 

  • U.S. hardwood exporters maintain documentation demonstrating that they purchase legal title to all wood inputs. 

Key facts 

  • The Uniform Commercial Code establishes consistent practices that govern most financial and commercial transactions in the United States. 

  • Contracts, delivery tickets or other documentation are used to verify the legal ownership of incoming wood material. 

  • Hardwood producers have formal wood supply contracts/agreements with suppliers that require clear title and legal ownership of all hardwood inputs. 

  • Hardwood producers maintain records of payments and receipts with all suppliers. Title to the wood material is exchanged as it is delivered at the mill / woodyard using Sales and / or Delivery Tickets or equivalent electronic evidence. These documents provide objective evidence of legal purchases. 



Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment, Section 5: The extent of timber theft has not changed appreciably since the earlier 2008 analysis. While timber theft is a significant and consequential problem for affected landowners, the volume of U.S. hardwood production that may be illegally obtained is very low relative to production, almost certainly less than one percent across the hardwood region, notwithstanding some estimates posted on websites to the contrary.  

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment, Section 10: Timber transactions are conducted between willing buyers and willing sellers. Hardwood managers and sawmill procurement organizations almost universally have standard supply agreements, contracts, timber deeds and other legal and enforceable business relationship agreements. Those contracts address utilization specifications, quality and quantity of trees, compliance with applicable environmental, health and safety laws and required insurance coverage.  

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 2:  Based on an examination of pertinent data, we conclude that all states in the U.S. hardwood-producing region can be considered Low Risk of sourcing illegal hardwoods per the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, the Australia Illegal Logging Prohibition, Japan’s Goho program, and the due diligence and risk assessment requirements of the certification programs (FSC®/SFI®/PEFC®) operating in the United States. 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 7: The amount of stolen timber across the hardwood region is very low relative to total hardwood production. [Section 5] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 8: Since 2008, several states have further strengthened enforcement capability and/or increased penalties for crimes involving timber theft. [Section 5] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 9: Since 2008, the amended US Lacey Act has strengthened U.S. law and regulation with respect to illegal sourcing of wood materials. [Section 2] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 10: The data indicate that federal, state, and local laws governing various aspects of forest management are effective and enforced. International governance indicators, including those compiled and updated by the World Bank, indicate that the U.S. is within the top quartile of countries in the world when it comes to the rule of law, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and low level of corruption. We are highly confident that national and state laws that apply to the hardwood sector are effective and enforced. [Sections 6, 7, 11; Appendix D] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 11: The international engagement by the United States, and its strong domestic legal framework for enforcing and prosecuting against illegally traded wood products (made stronger since 2008), further mitigates the risk of U.S. hardwood products originating from illegal sources. [Section 2] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 12: The sourcing of U.S. hardwoods is almost entirely from privately-owned forestland. Private lands account for approximately 92 percent of U.S. hardwood production. Of the land in private ownership in the hardwood region, 65 percent is owned and managed by approximately 9.4 million family forest owners (nearly 11 million for the U.S. as a whole). The average holding is just over 9 hectares. [Section 3] 

Seneca Creek 2017 Assessment Finding 13: The rights of timber ownership are well-established and protected in the United States. Landowners can make independent decisions about how their land is managed and used. Most U.S. forest landowners own and manage their forestland for reasons other than timber production. [Section 3]