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Musicians demand end to ‘blood wood’


Citing environmental and human rights concerns, musicians have joined the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and environmental non-profit REVERB to call for legal and sustainable sourcing of wood products used in guitars and other musical instruments.

A video released this week features musicians who are especially concerned that the trade in precious tonewoods contributes to damaging forest practices, undermines the rule of law and leads to human rights violations in forest communities.

Getting in tune


This coalition of artists is calling on all consumers to find out where their wood comes from so that we can stop illegal logging together.

‘It is analogous to the illegal diamond mining industry, and the term blood diamond is applicable here if you think of this wood as ‘blood wood’.

‘It is the same kind of exploitation, the same kind of rapaciousness, the same damage to local communities and local economies that we are seeing here with illegal logging.’

Mickey Madden, Maroon 5

Pressure from musicians

EIA co-produced the video and applauds musicians for maintaining pressure on the illegal timber trade, highlighting the need for implementation and enforcement of the Lacey Act, a US law that prohibits trade in illegally-sourced timber and wood products.

Companies importing any wood products are required to conduct due care to ensure their wood is sourced legally.

‘We share the concerns and the urgency voiced by these musicians.

‘With more laws now on the books to prohibit illegal logging and related trade, as well as mounting attention from consumers, it is clear that companies can no longer afford to ignore this global market shift toward legal wood sourcing.’

Lisa Handy, senior policy advisor at EIA

Illegal wood trade

Illegal logging and associated trade occurs when wood is cut, processed, and traded in violation of a state or country’s laws, or in violation of international laws.

The United Nations estimates that up to 30% of the global wood products trade violates these laws, and recent studies conclude that, on a global scale, up to 50% of tropical deforestation for agriculture is illegal.

‘All consumers that buy any product that has wood in it should just ask… It starts this conversation about the supply chain and where is this wood coming from’, said Adam Gardner of Guster and REVERB.

Lacey Act success

In late 2014, United States Forest Service scientists published an economic analysis showing that the Lacey Act had been successful in reducing US imports of illegally logged wood since 2008, which is when the original law was amended to include wood products.

Illegal logging often occurs in some of the poorest regions of the world, affecting the indigenous communities that live there.

These communities see little to none of the massive profits brought by valuable wood species in global markets.

Madagascar’s rosewood

EIA’s investigation into rosewood harvested illegally from Madagascar’s biodiverse national parks found that only a few dollars of the profits remained in the hands of communities, while finished products, such as carved rosewood bed frames and cabinets, retailed for hundreds of thousands of dollars in global markets.

Meanwhile, the natural resources that communities depend upon were depleted.

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