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CITES

CITES

Postby atticus » Wed May 24, 2017 8:05 pm

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Today I have been researching it, as it has affected something I have been trying to do.

In February I ordered a new mandolin. A thing of beauty. Made in Oregon, USA. After several days of e-mailing to find someone who would help me buy one, as the luthier (maker of guitars and similar stringed instruments) does not sell to the public, I found a UK retailer who was willing to spend the time making the connections. So I placed my order, and paid my deposit against a price of £700.

Yesterday I e-mailed the retailer, asking if they had an update -just a gentle prod as I had been told to expect delivery mid June. The reply came that there is a hold up due to CITES. I assumed that it was due to ivory in the "binding", but no, it turns out that what luthiers refer to as ivory is nowadays some kind of artificial substitute.

The problem is rosewood. Rosewood is a tropical hardwood, often used by makers of stringed instruments for the neck. My researches reveal that it has become endangered due to insatiable demands by chinese for rosewood furniture. It was put on the CITES list earlier this year.

I am trying to find out more. It seems that the American guitar making industry (Gibson, Fender etc as well as small people like my luthier) is lobbying for some kind of relaxation of the rule, but I think that if this is achieved, it will take quite a while.

In the meantime I am trying to see if other options become available. I have found a couple of British luthiers, but to get a beautiful instrument made would likely cost £2,000 or more. I would find that hard to justify.

CITES is going to have effects. If you have family heirlooms made of ivory, tortoiseshell and other exotic animal products, you will soon not be able to sell them. The same will probably go for various tropical hardwoods.
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Re: CITES

Postby dls » Thu May 25, 2017 5:32 am

It is fascinating how we are so unexpectedly affected, but in truth, if the tree is indeed endangered, the protecting of it can be appropriate.
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Re: CITES

Postby atticus » Thu May 25, 2017 5:53 am

Yes, I agree. A sustainable solution has to be found, which I expect will have to involve use of some other wood, or maybe some other material for the neck.

North American spruce and maple are used for the body of the instrument.
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Re: CITES

Postby Hairyloon » Thu May 25, 2017 9:39 am

dls wrote:It is fascinating how we are so unexpectedly affected, but in truth, if the tree is indeed endangered, the protecting of it can be appropriate.

Managed woodland is a big part of the answer, except that if there is lawful trade in a thing, it makes it so much easier to trade unlawfully in that thing.

Total abolition presents its own problems if it leaves the native countries with nothing to trade: if they cannot sell managed rainforest products, then they're better off burning it down and farming beef. :(
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Re: CITES

Postby DannyJP » Fri May 26, 2017 7:30 am

The Musicians Union are keeping a close eye on these regulations as they often affect musicians touring with their instruments. Ebony, pernambuco, ivory and rosewood are often ingredients in many stringed instruments and this makes touring with my violin somewhat complicated. The paperwork required is such that I choose to use a lesser instrument for most touring. There used to be a customs officer is the USA who simply snapped bows in half that he did not approve of, leaving the arguments for later!
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Re: CITES

Postby daffy » Fri May 26, 2017 12:59 pm

I used rosewood in the 1990s, and had to have a license from the British department of environment or its predessessor. This was only required for rio rosewood or dalbergia nigra. Other rosewoods were not affected, for instance Indian rosewood. One solution could therefore be to use another type of rosewood or equally beautiful hardwood for your mandolin. I remember using kingwood instead which was then not protected but might be now - this should be easy to find out.

There would also be obstacles if you had the instrument made in England as no one would be allowed to sell rio rosewood or othe CITES protected species here without a license either, except they would not need an export license on top. to get this license which is yearly I had to prove that I had obtained old rio rosewood or pre- 197x, and this meant to give the names of my suppliers who would confirm that the timber was old. so another solution might be to ask the supplier to get a license to sell and then apply for an export license too.

There are beautiful indiginous north american woods too: walnut, plum, lignum vitai, boxwood and who knows what; your luthier should be able to come up with a suitable alternative, imho
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Re: CITES

Postby Hairyloon » Fri May 26, 2017 2:28 pm

daffy wrote:There are beautiful indiginous north american woods too: walnut, plum, lignum vitai, boxwood and who knows what...


Boxwood grows quite happily in the UK, I don't know if it is indigenous or no. I'm not sure I'd call it beautiful though: is it not a bit plain? Happy to be corrected on that though.
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Re: CITES

Postby daffy » Fri May 26, 2017 7:25 pm

Yes - a matter of taste
a darker wood than box could provide a pleasing contrast to that maple and spruce.
I like the fine grain of box especially for pegs or inlay
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Re: CITES

Postby daffy » Fri May 26, 2017 7:32 pm

With musical instruments you may get what you pay for; the differences are subtle though, and may not apply to your kind of mandolin

Shipping could be a problem too as a delicate instrument should not sit in the cargo hold due to sub zero temperature and climate fluctuations, let alone rough handling. Often instruments have to fly with people rather than as cargo, which could make importing from the US expensive
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Re: CITES

Postby atticus » Fri May 26, 2017 9:05 pm

The Oregon where this instrument is made, hairy, is in the USA.
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