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The C.I.T.E.S Classification

The listing of Pernambuco wood (Caesalpinia echinata) in the Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) raised many questions and concerns among musicians and makers. The legal process was completed on June 15th, 2007 and should protect the patrimony of forests and bows. This classification regulates the trade of logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, including unfinished wood articles used for the fabrication of bows for stringed musical instruments.

Musicians are allowed to travel with their bows (restrictions may apply to tortoise shell frogs and to specific bows). Makers can safely sell their bows as long as they use woods and supplies complying with the various CITES regulations. The commerce of the wood is regulated.

Regarding the classification and trade of Pernambuco wood, we reproduce here three important documents:

  1. Proposal CoP14 Prop. 30, drafted after the 2007 Brazil proposal was adopted at the Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in The Hague (Netherlands), 3-15 June 2007. It became effective on September 13th, 2007.
  2. On June 15th, the Conference adopted the Proposal with the amendment, introduced by Germany, to add an annotation to Caesalpinia echinata that excludes finished bows for stringed instruments (See Notification No. 2007/022, page 3)
  3. A letter from the United States Wild Life Service regarding US Importation/Re-exportation of Pernambuco wood and products (United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, August 14, 2007)

History Of The Classification

The path towards the classification stretched along the past 30 years as the concern grew over the rarefaction of the Pernambuco trees. It entered a formal legal phase at the international level in the recent years. Brazil, the only native soil for the trees, and international associations of bow makers are the main actors with the CITES for promoting the protection of this endangered species.

We retraced the available chronology to better understand the process (See CITES initiatives timeline). Our research is only limited and by no means constitutes legal advice. We encourage you to seek additional information.

Official documents are available on the web with the Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of Interior (fws.gov) and the CITES (cites.org). Information can also be found in the ICPI website and newsletter (International Conservation Pernambuco Initiative). In addition, we list here some of the relevant offices and sources (See Listing).

Different initiatives are now developping in parallel, from replanting and studying the forest, to investigating alternative woods and substitutive materials, to legal matters.

Since the mid-seventies, Benoît Rolland participated, sometimes initiated, in many of these researches and initiatives. His leading research is described in our pages Innovation. He engages currently a new phase for understanding and evolving bow making.

Pernambuco Tree In Brazil

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