Japan names first 5 ROs under Clean Wood Act

By Erin Voegele | January 18, 2018

Japan’s Forestry Agency has named the first five organizations that have been certified to register companies' policies for compliance with its Clean Wood Act, according to a notice filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network.

The Clean Wood Act was implemented in May and impacts most forest products, including logs, lumber, furniture and wood pellets. The law is a described as a voluntary norm of conduct that applies to all Japanese wood-related business entities. It aims to ensure domestic and imported wood are harvested legally.  

“Unlike the U.S. Lacey Act, the Clean Wood Act does not penalize the purchase, possession, transportation or sale of illegally sourced wood products,” states the GAIN report. “Rather, the [government of Japan] intends to create an environment that rewards companies for making an effort to distribute legally harvested wood. As the Clean Wood Act states ‘business operators shall endeavor to use legally-harvested wood when they handle wood and wood products (Article 5),’ the Clean Wood Act is considered a mandatory effort to promote legally harvested wood products in Japan.”

The report explains that the primary function of the Clean Wood Act is as a registration program for the review and approval of measures to secure legally-harvested wood and wood products. Registering organizations (ROs) evaluate the measures proposed by companies to demonstrate compliance with the Clean Wood Act. Once approved, companies are able to refer to themselves as a registered wood-related entity (RWRE).

Wood pellets are among the forestry products addressed by the Clean Wood Act, which means that entities in Japan that import, trade and consume wood pellets are likely to be impacted. Japan’s annual biofuels report filed GAIN in August notes that the country consumed an estimated 525,000 metric tons of wood pellets last year, including 400,000 metric tons of imported wood pellets. This year, consumption is expected to increase to 555,000 metric tons, including 430,000 tons of imported wood pellets. The U.S. supplied an estimated 306 metric tons of wood pellets to Japan in 2016.

Additional information on the first five ROs is available on the USDA FAS GAIN website.