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Pete Howlett
12-08-2016, 09:38 PM
After looking at the comprehensive list that also includes Bubinga now and Koso or African Rosewood, the writing is on the wall for these as luthier tonewoods. Just when you thought Indian Rosewood had just about managed to replace Rio as an equal alternative at least in the minds of most of the big guitar manufacturing marketing departments, (doesn't matter how many times the big boys oil it, IR is not BR and we all know it!) BANG, CITES.org screws the industry over yet again...

So this is what I think will happen. Richlite will take centre stage despite protests and there will be a rush to replace rosewood with ebony. And guess what? All ebony varietyes will be the next specie to go on the list along with any wood that has the title Mahogany even if it is not a true mahogany. They will put every other 'brown' wood into Appendix II and within a short space of time all of Appendix II tonewoods will be bumped up to Apppendix I. Easily, within ten years, CITES will have such a stranglehold over the industry that plastic and composites will be marketed as the genuine replacements for traditional tonewoods. And still there will be illegal logging of wood until it is all gone - Silent Running here we come!

As for me? I have 190 instruments more to make and I am stocking up on mgurure while they are looking elsewhere!

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-09-2016, 05:00 AM
Pete, I agree.

Ebony will be next. After that alot of other dark woods which appear rosewoodish to the uneducated.

That IRW made it to Appendix II before Gaboon ebony is absolute joke...

Expect to see more maple, wenge and walnut instruments for international orders.

Recstar24
12-09-2016, 06:14 AM
Didn't realize they classify IRW more stringently than gaboon ebony! That is very backwards, as true gaboon jet black ebony is super rare :(

I am sure this will also drive the cost of ebony even higher now :(

Silver lining - local native American woods will be more popular?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-09-2016, 08:47 AM
Didn't realize they classify IRW more stringently than gaboon ebony! That is very backwards, as true gaboon jet black ebony is super rare :(

I am sure this will also drive the cost of ebony even higher now :(
?

Yes- it is utterly ludicrous, but this is government where are talking about.

Here is the list- ebony is actually on the Appendix 3 (lower then IRW)
https://www.fws.gov/international/plants/current-cites-listings-of-tree-species.html

Info on the difference within appendix 1, 2,3:

Appendix 2
https://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-cites-appendix-ii-2014.pdf

Appendix 3
https://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-cites-appendix-iii-2016.pdf

Michael N.
12-09-2016, 11:40 AM
When did they ban these woods?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-09-2016, 12:44 PM
When did they ban these woods?

A few months ago (i think)- but it comes into effect 2nd Jan 2017

southcoastukes
12-09-2016, 04:31 PM
A few months ago (i think)- but it comes into effect 2nd Jan 2017

It looks to me like you've just posted an abreviated list of the restrictions that have been in effect for quite some time (cacti, ferns and such filtered out). I'm not seeing Indian Rosewood anywhere - either latifolia or sissoo. anywhere. Apparently it will be listed shortly, but I don't find it here. I don't see Gaboon Ebony listed at all.

As for the restrictions on all species of Madagascar Ebonies, that's definitely been there a while. They ought to just put all timber exports on that island under the permit process. "Guesstimates" are that they could have lost 90% of their forest. What's not a guess is that the island is an environmental disaster. Once again, agriculture and cattle play the big part, but to deny responsibility because "that guy is worse than me" is just a self centered refusal to participate in any way in rectifying a bad situation.

I have small stockpiles of a bunch of the woods on that list - principally somewhat obscure Central American Rosewoods - woods that were unrestricted at the time I aquired them. If they ever do make it into instruments, they'll just be sold in the states, so no loss. If we ever get going in Central America again there are more woods there than you could ever list (some that have never even been classified) that make perfectly fine tonewoods and are not threatened in any way.

I really don't understand the anguish.

And BTW, aside from the obvious need to intervene in certain situations, politics play a definite part in this process. Brazil jumped in first on Spanish Cedar because it competes with some of their own architectural exports (Red Grandis), and by putting it in Appendix III for their population (where it was never plentiful to begin with), they force everyone else to prove their Spanish Cedar didn't come from Brazil. So certificates of origin for all Spanish Cedar - higher prices as a result and more sales of unrestricted species from Brazil.

And have you ever wondered about why no woods from the U.S. are listed? Ever wonder about the sustainability of Koa, for example, versus Spanish Cedar? No, it's not a perfect system, but don't use that as an excuse to criticize the neccesity of having a system at all.

sequoia
12-09-2016, 08:49 PM
Thank you Dirk for a well thought out and well written response. I've been following this thread with much interest as have many others. No it is not a perfect system, but lets see how it works out before we condemn the system. Let's wait until the final regulatory response comes out in the next year.

Pete Howlett
12-09-2016, 09:40 PM
CITES is not a benign organisation that is going to give the ukulele making industry a free pass because they make cute looking instruments. It is a powerful, unilateral-acting organisation that bullies the small guy because the governments who support it cannot act effectively to get at the root of the problem. I do not see an equal zeal at attacking climate change, world poverty, reliance on fossil fuels, growing cash crops like tea and coffee instead of food for their starving citizens and backing the sale of arms that are used to wage war by proxy... who has ever seen a government act so swiftly on a matter with such far reaching consequences? I guess not since JWB went to war with Iraq....

Timbuck
12-09-2016, 10:45 PM
Do you remember these from about 3 years back ? when we discussed the same subject...When Gibson was experimenting with alternatives to rosewood...here is a link to that thread http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?81268-Baked-Maple-Fretboards&highlight=baked+maple
One of these is rosewood and the other baked maple
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/PICT0002-18_zpsba1149be.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/PICT0002-18_zpsba1149be.jpg.html)

Michael N.
12-09-2016, 10:54 PM
Hold on guys. There is no ban in place. It's a restriction, nothing more, nothing less and the impact it will have on instrument makers will be very little.
AFAIK they've moved these woods to CITES II. CITES II is not CITES I.
Spanish cedar (Cedrela) has been on CITES II for a number of years. It's still the number one wood used on classical guitar necks. It's still readily available and you can still ship it across the world. In fact I can go out and buy hundreds of board feet of the stuff right now, enough to last anyone a lifetime.
The difference is that when purchasing these woods you need to buy the permit for that batch of wood. Think of it as a passport. That will allow the free movement of your instruments across borders. Suppliers of timber is where you get the permit. They give you a choice, you either buy the timber with the permit or you buy it without. One allows you to export, the other does not. Of course it does cost but if you are buying in reasonable quantity then the cost per unit is pretty low. It will be extremely high if you are just buying one set of back/sides though.
There is no ban in place. These rosewoods aren't going to vanish. Just a little more expensive and more form filling for the maker.
That's my limited understanding of CITES II and Cedrela. I don't see why it will be any different for any of the other woods.

Pete Howlett
12-10-2016, 02:34 AM
Some of us have pre CITES stashes. And it's not banned sure but you need a high level of internal beurocracy

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-10-2016, 07:02 AM
Michael is correct, this is nothing new, just another species added to an ever growing list of protected woods we need to be concerned about. Instrument builders also tend to be wood collectors and hoarders and some of us have been sitting on a lifetime worth of wood obtained from various and often forgotten sources. With a few exceptions I've stopped buying wood a few years ago because i simply don't need anymore. The vast majority has come from local sawyers, yard sales, Craigslist, distress sales, woodworkers going out of business, or from a "guy who knows a guy". Some of this wood is from trees that were felled long before CITES was conceived and no one thought of keeping a paper trail. I have never bought wood from an online lumber company or an instrument supply retailer. I think many of us small builders are in the same position. The woods that I am most concerned with, Spanish cedar and Honduran mahogany are used in every uke I build. I have no idea where these woods originated, or even if they are the species they claim to be and I certainly don't have the paperwork for them. As a result, when these woods were added to Appendices II and III, I decided to no longer ship internationally. I don't build that many ukes so it's not really a hardship for me. Larger manufactures and exporters have the means to comply with all the required legal red tape, I just don't have the stomach for it.

AndrewKuker
12-10-2016, 08:33 AM
FWIW and only from my experience, the scariest country to import to is America. Asian countries really don’t mess with your stuff. At least on this level. Importing a container maybe. Now as more materials get added to those needing a permit and most musical instruments fall into this category maybe it will be different. I don’t know. I could do a little A-B testing. Maybe only get a permit for every other one that needs it. Get some data, cost/risk analysis. I would have to lose at least a few $5k ukes a year to equal the amount we’ll spend on permits.

Pete Howlett
12-10-2016, 01:11 PM
Well that gorgeous set of amazon rosewood you gave me Chuck which I intended to return to Hawaii via HMS now stays here and that is the shame. Your work will be accessed mainly through magazines and opportunity to see the extent of your skills will be limited... I don't think I said they are banned. I predicted that this is a first step to bumping them onto CITES I which is an effective ban. My beef is that the elephant in the room is not illegal logging but the complicit nature of this vile trade with governments turning a blind eye to what the criminal citizens in their country are doing. I understand that this illegal activity is done by organised gangs whose training ground has been the drugs trade. They know how to operate under the radar but some someone in a government position IS turning a blind eye to it.

southcoastukes
12-10-2016, 03:18 PM
My beef is that the elephant in the room is not illegal logging but the complicit nature of this vile trade with governments turning a blind eye to what the criminal citizens in their country are doing. I understand that this illegal activity is done by organised gangs whose training ground has been the drugs trade. They know how to operate under the radar but some someone in a government position IS turning a blind eye to it.

Pete, I'm afraid your understanding in this area is a bit incomplete. "Organized Gangs" are not the root of the problem when it comes to illegal logging.

I can tell you as someone who has navigated the permit process in the countries where they are required exactly how it works. In a lot of the tropical countries where illegal logging occurs, a different metality exists when it comes to "public servants". Those in temperate zones tend to look on it as bribery/corruption. But the other way to look at it is that the average citizen should not be expected to pay for things in taxes that he doesn't use.

The one area where U.S. citizens, for example, might have experienced this sort of thing is traffic violations in Mexico. If you are pulled over, often you evade ticketing or fines (or jail) by paying a "mordita" (little bite) to the policeman. This is seen as a good thing by the general populace. The police officer generally recieves a wage that no one could hope to survive on. And the law-abiding non-speeders feel that the police salaries should be made whole not by the general law-abiding populace, but by those who violate the law.

The same principal applies to the offices that issue export permits for wood. Those folks generally have a ridiculously low salary, and so to even get a permit to export, you pay a bit extra. There was even a line item on our bills from the local customs brokers for "Special Services". The "special services" were morditas to the employees at the export office.

This is all well and good as long as the lumber being exported is legit. The exporter in effect pays more of the cost of the processing - the taxpayer pays less. But it does open the door to illegal cutting at the same time. If the exporter lacks proper certification from the owner of the trees (could be him or someone else), then you just bump up the mordita, and compliant paperwork appears.

So this brings us to your other comment, Pete, about CITES "bullying" the little guy. Bullying is what law enforcement does, as again, a "cost effective" way to enforce things. Obviously CITES does not have the manpower or the budget to put people in every export office of every lumber exporting country with species extinction problems. So the cost effective way to force compliance is to selectively hit the end consumers, and try to get as much publicity over the matter as you can (Gibson). Though you don't have the manpower/budget to enforce things totally on the consumer end either, those "scare tactics" tend to make people thing twice about pushing the limits. That makes the demand for "questionable" imports go down.

Gibson, for example, knew they were pushing things. They won't go that route again, and the folks in the music industry who read about it are much less likely to try it either. And that is also a good thing.

And finally they don't go after the "little guy" in general, only when it serves them well for an example. Here in the Port of New Orleans we import more tropical woods into North America than anywhere else. The folks here are not "little guys". They own huge lumber processing facilities in both Latin America and Africa. I know them well enough to know they stay on top of things and stay compliant. You don't hear of the "Big Guys" being busted because they don't break the law.

Frankly, your remarks about drugs gangs down south being the cause of your anguish sounds like ...well, I'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt.

stevepetergal
12-10-2016, 03:37 PM
CITES is not a benign organisation that is going to give the ukulele making industry a free pass because they make cute looking instruments. It is a powerful, unilateral-acting organisation that bullies the small guy because the governments who support it cannot act effectively to get at the root of the problem. I do not see an equal zeal at attacking climate change, world poverty, reliance on fossil fuels, growing cash crops like tea and coffee instead of food for their starving citizens and backing the sale of arms that are used to wage war by proxy... who has ever seen a government act so swiftly on a matter with such far reaching consequences? I guess not since JWB went to war with Iraq....

Here here.

southcoastukes
12-10-2016, 03:39 PM
Here here.

Ignorance is bliss!

sequoia
12-10-2016, 07:00 PM
Ignorance is bliss!

Thank you Dirk for your thoughtful and illuminating post on this subject. It is a complex subject and is often reduced to the "good guys" versus "bad guys" argument which is a gross over simplification of a very complex situation. There is a lot going on here which I will admit I don't fully appreciate. I do appreciate however that it was/is inevitable. Demand exceeds dwindling supply. What I think irks instrument builders is the fact that luthiers probably take a very small piece of the pie when it comes to the over all consumption of this wood and that they are being unfairly singled out as an example when in fact it is the furniture/boat/high end construction industry that is driving the extinction. An interesting consequence of resource exhaustion is that once a commodity become rarer and more scarce and the end appears in sight, the worth (value $$$) increases exponentially which only drives increased production which hastens the eventual demise of the resource. This actually becomes a motivation for the producers to over harvest the commodity to increase scarcity which then increases profits. It is a nasty little economic cycle that hastens the exhaustion of the natural resource.

Where I live here on the North Coast of California is a classic example of this phenomena. It was the cutting of the last of the old growth Redwood trees in the later part of the 20th century. The timber industry called it "the last buffalo hunt" in 1970's and it only lasted about 5 years until they took everything out. Profits were sky high and then of coarse the entire timber industry collapsed once it was over. But you know what, the fat-cats didn't care because they made their money. They saw the coming environmental restrictions and knew they needed to work fast. And they did. Using modern equipment like big Cats and Sky-lining extraction methods it was tree slaughter just like the buffalo. Amazing how quick it went. I hope that CITES can prevent this sort of tragedy. We shall see. I'll shut up now.

Michael N.
12-11-2016, 12:23 AM
Luthiers are not being singled out. They are just caught up in the need to try and control the depletion or extinction of specie. They can still buy and trade with rosewood all they want. It will cost a little more (not much) and it involves a bit more paperwork (not much). If all the rosewoods make it on to CITES I you can be assured that it means those woods are in serious trouble, from extinction. Sorry but not in my name. This is more about trying to slow down the rate of resource depletion.
If you have a good alternative I'm sure the authorities would love to hear the details.
Anyone?

Dan Gleibitz
12-11-2016, 01:37 AM
If you have a good alternative I'm sure the authorities would love to hear the details.
Anyone?

A straight-up ban on import, sale and trade of these species or products containing these species would be an effective alternative without the administrative costs or paperwork.

I suspect, having been involved in similar (but unrelated) bureaucratic actions, that what we have here is an attempt to find an acceptable middle ground. Such attempts always seem to please nobody and instead piss everybody off.

Seriously, my suggestion to the decision makers is to slap down a ban instead of a control.

cml
12-11-2016, 03:31 AM
I think that with all the talent from builders around here, working with different wood selections wont be a problem.

Pete Howlett
12-11-2016, 08:57 AM
Actually, working with sustainable woods is not a problem. However there is a reason that the listed species are used in building - they are great musical instrument making woods, breathtakingly beautiful and are THE traditional luthiers' woods. I have no problem with changing but I can almost guarantee that the majority of the general public who have bought into the mythology, misinformation and nonsense surrounding the grail like status of these won't find it so easy to accept. And I have proved this on this very forum - look at the number of views/responses to my postings on my alternative-to-koa woods, Makore and Korina. Maybe it's me but hardly any response whatsoever. And yet these woods really give koa and mahogany a run for their money. I've posted in this thread about mgurure - nada, nothing. Lets get real. The ukulele buying community wants endangered species in their instruments and as long as we are able, we'll do it for you won't we?

Pete Howlett
12-11-2016, 09:21 AM
I bow to your greater experience Dirk but a bribe is a bribe. And by illegal logging I mean everywhere. It may be in your experience that the bIG guys aren't involved but I have seen enough documentaries which are 'real' reporting regarding the link between organised crime and 'soft' contraband like timber to know that this is a significant part of the problem. There is also satellite evidence that shows the 'white' border between China and Russia growing wider each year as illegal loggers continue to rape southern Russia of it's pine forests. And I do have issue with the way this is all perceived. Luthiers are the little guys. I can't go to a village in Belize and negotiate with the local population to buy 5 legally felled mahogany tress a year so I can put mahogany necks on my guitars. It's what Bob Taylor has done and while it is laudable and responsible it is also keeping the idea of alternative temperate climate hardwoods like alder and tulipwood - woods used throughout the 20's, 30's and 40's right through to the 60's on guitars built in Chicago - firmly in the backroom. Yes there are alternatives - problem is they ain't brown and they aren't commercially managed but more worryingly, they are not even considered by the trend setting big boys... Yes, it is more complicated than we would each like to argue but drill down and you will find that there is a lack of will to change and a lack of consensus on what the future really is going to be shaped. When our Monarch had her 'terrible year' and one of her palaces was damaged by a great fire, there was not enough oak in Britain to meet the repairs - we had to go to France to get what could not be bought in the UK. There is a shortage of specialised wood. I am advocating that governments recognise this and in conjunction with the wood producers come up with a plan that takes into account the differing needs, structures, concerns of the little guy as well as the big guy. I note Andy Kitakis reckons this new legislation is going to cost him an extra $10k a year. A 'little guy' with a big bill. I was going to send back to Hawaii a made-up set of Amazon rosewood generously gifted to me by Chuck Moore - a gesture of appreciation honouring our friendship. That won't happen now.... that is the impact on me personally. This would have given me so much satisfaction and repay the warm and generous welcome I got when I visited Andrew and Chuck - just snatched away with the stroke of a ball point pen!

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-11-2016, 10:22 AM
A podcast from the Fretboard journal

https://www.fretboardjournal.com/podcast/podcast-127-cites-rosewood-updates-john-thomas/

AndrewKuker
12-11-2016, 10:47 AM
Seriously, my suggestion to the decision makers is to slap down a ban instead of a control.

This was a blanket regulation. They could have just targeted the dalbergia in Thailand and Vietnam being severely deforested for Chinese furniture, but border officials have a hard time telling the difference in different species. But even still, banning doesn’t seem to help. The problem is money. Where there is land, there is money to be made, and the privatization of land always leads to destruction. When they made it illegal to cut Brazilian rosewood many investors had people illegally start forest fires so they could then “legally” turn it into cattle farms to make money off it. So did that help? And for what remains, as pointed out, banning raised the price of Brazilian rosewood making the risk of illegal logging more worth taking. These forests are often in poverty stricken lands and wherever there is money to be made it will be exploited.

Protecting the land and controlling the way it’s used as well as the exporting process is the only way. Take India for example. It has very strict rules for rosewood. Even if you want to cut a rosewood tree on your own property you have to get a permit and they will come take it away. The government is behind all the sales and very closely monitors all exports. You can’t buy a log. As many of you know you can now only buy Indian rosewood in pre-cut sets from India. The 3 ounces of bridge and fretboard material is the majority of what I'll be filing.

I’ll follow the rules. I just won’t pretend we’re solving any problems or making the needed changes to environmental regulations to the source of the issues. That may never happen but it’s still largely up to each individual. Each one of us has an impact on this earth that goes far beyond the wood you choose for your ukulele. It’s the things we buy, consume, and use on a daily basis that create this collective rippling effect our children and grandchildren will inherit. Hopefully they will also inherit our ukuleles so they can make some music and find more joy in life. I consider this art to be a truly positive use of the tiny bit of earth's resources it takes, and something that will give back many times over.

All wood is finite. To use it responsibly is to make objects that are special and intended to be used for many generations. If you want to use woods on appendix 2 and ship internationally, just get a permit.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-11-2016, 12:39 PM
Just listening to that podcast- John says that in 2016, China imports 350 Rosewood logs per HOUR

Dan Gleibitz
12-11-2016, 12:40 PM
Crikey, no wonder all dalbergia got listed. From 100,000 m3/yr to 2,000,000 m3/yr in half a decade. Anything left off the list would cop all the demand.

http://www.forest-trends.org/releases/uploads/hongmu_figure_1.png

I'd be interested to see an update to this graph a couple of years into the future.

Andrew, I agree that CITES is more sensible than a ban. It's just unpopular.

Dan Gleibitz
12-11-2016, 12:43 PM
And the other end of the supply chain:

Senegal is proposing a crackdown on exports of African rosewood, native to West Africa’s savanna forests, which the government says have ballooned from $12,000 to $180 million between early 2009 and the third quarter of 2014.
Link (http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/01/15/countries-move-to-stop-illicit-asian-rosewood-trade/)

AndrewKuker
12-11-2016, 02:43 PM
Crikey, no wonder all dalbergia got listed. From 100,000 m3/yr to 2,000,000 m3/yr in half a decade. Anything left off the list would cop all the demand.

I'd be interested to see an update to this graph a couple of years into the future.

Andrew, I agree that CITES is more sensible than a ban. It's just unpopular.

These problems are systemic. Right now ebony trees are more frightened than ever, and they already peed their pants years ago. And what will we find after that? We’re wood slingin’ gansters. Guangdong furniture bros., aka ISIS of the forest, ruins it for everyone. And all you furniture lovers. How dare you buy another cabinet. Shelves full of books you didn’t read. Shame.
Anyway, first order of business, change my shipping box logo to say All Carbon Fiber!