Rosewood Restrictions Ending for Musical Instruments Following CITES Exemption

Date Posted:10 October 2019 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) has exempted musical instruments from restrictions on the trade of rosewood as of Tuesday November 26th. Brazilian Rosewood remains under restrictions due to low amounts of the material.

CITES initial rules required anything made from wood included in the regulations to have export papers, certification about the origin of the timber and harvest dates. These rules applied to both guitars made before and after the CITES regulations were implemented, meaning that vintage guitars were not free from rules that were created long after they were made.

These restrictions were initially implemented to stop over-felling, which was causing negative effects on woodland ecosystems, and as an attempt to stop rosewood and other tonewoods, namely Brazilian rosewood, from becoming endangered. These woods were not only being used in musical instrument manufacturing where only a small amount of the Rosewood use existed; they were used worldwide to produce items including furniture. The initial restrictions put pressure on the entire music industry ranging from manufacturers to people travelling internationally with Rosewood instruments. Brands such as Fender began to use alternative wood materials such as pau ferro, affecting tonal properties.

This exemption comes from the efforts of musicians and instrument manufacturers dating back to 2016 who believed the conservational benefit achieved by restrictions would not outweigh the loss the musical sphere would experience. It was also argued that musical instrument production was not a major contributor to the overuse of the timbers listed in the regulations.

The exemption ensures that instruments, parts and accessories can now travel worldwide without the lengthy permits that they were subjected to prior, and may see Rosewood and its prized tonal properties returning to current musical instrument production.

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