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Musical Instrument Exemption approved by CITES Conference

Steve Vitale • Posted on 09/09/2019

A few weeks ago in Geneva, Switzerland, the CITES CoP18, or Conference of the Parties, voted and approved an exemption from the restrictions on rosewood for musical instruments placed in early 2017. This exemption will allow the international sale of musical instruments manufactured with rosewood without mandatory permits or individual authorizations. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is a treaty comprised of 183 parties that meet every three years to discuss amendments to protect more than 35,000 animal and plant species.

Led by a coalition of industry leaders, the push to add the exemption was largely based on the commitment of major manufacturers’ own sustainability efforts and the insistence that the musical instrument industry is not at fault for deforestation and endangerment. Industry leaders, consisting of music associations from multiple countries and brands such as Martin Guitars and Taylor Guitars, along with law makers and government officials, worked toward this decision since the restrictions were placed in late 2016.

Scott Paul, Taylor Guitars’ Director of Natural Resource Sustainability addressed how restrictions affected the industry and customers through the requirement of permits on new and owned instruments which overwhelmed national governments responsible for CITES permits.

Although many in the musical instrument industry supported the decision, there was still a call for all involved to continue the industry’s march toward certified supply chains and sustainable sourcing of raw materials. Taylor Guitars’ Scott Paul concluded, “Manufacturers have a great responsibility to ensure we source materials from responsible suppliers and aid in the fight for forest conservation and restoration.”

The exemption is set to go into effect sometime in late November as rosewood is expected to return to many production guitars, where it was replaced by other tone woods. A boom for international sales is expected to ensue.