Response to the Petition on

Against the classification of pernambuco wood in Appendix I of CITES

Orchester des Wandels e.V. association supports the calls for cooperation between all those involved in order to improve the situation of pernambuco wood (Paubrasilia echinata). Brazil sees this species, which has been used to make high-quality bows for more than 200 years, as increasingly threatened. Upgrading to Appendix 1 (Europe Appendix A) in the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) would have massive repercussions for musicians. Travel with the bows is still possible but is becoming more complicated due to the considerable additional organizational effort. Stricter rules will also apply to bow trading and bow making.

As musicians, it is important for us to include all considerations on this topic. Pernambuco is the Brazilian national tree (Pau Brasil = tree of Brazil) and is also representative of more than 500 years of colonialism, exploitation and destruction of traditional cultures and indigenous peoples. Of great economic importance for the production of paint in Europe and later also used for bow making, pernambuco shared the history of its region of origin, Mata Atlantica on the east coast of Brazil: forest loss through deforestation, settlement, conversion to farmland or monocultures (eucalyptus, sugar cane, cocoa and coffee).

If we are rightly proud of our musical culture, we must also recognize that this was and still is based on the exploitation of other cultures and the environment in the countries of origin. As in many areas, culture and nature are at odds with the pernambuco tree.
We are aware that no planted tree can replace a felled tree in its natural habitat. No planted forest can replace a natural forest. The use of a tree species in plantations or mixed forests also requires a stable population in nature as a reliable gene reservoir. Protection through utilization is now a recognized approach to species conservation for many environmental organizations. Brazilian foundations, private individuals, local and international bow makers started planting pernambuco 60 years ago. The national tree of Brazil became at home in botanical gardens, parks, avenues and private gardens. For 20 years, bow makers have been planting pernambuco in monocultures, mostly in combination with cocoa and sometimes in mixed commercial forests, always with the aim of later use. The CITES regulations expressly allow the use of "artificially grown specimens", i.e. the wood of trees that have been planted and registered accordingly.
Despite these commercial forests, allegedly illegally cleared timber and bows made from it have been repeatedly confiscated in Brazil. The responsible Brazilian federal authority IBAMA and organizations such as IUCN (Red List of Threatened Species) and TRAFFIC classify the Paubrasil population as very threatened. There is concern that pernambuco trees are still being illegally taken from the wild and processed.
Here we see the indispensable need for cooperation between Brazilian civil society, Brazilian and international authorities, environmental protection organizations, instrument makers and the international cultural scene. Together, the protected areas in the Mata Atlantica must be stabilized and enlarged, and illegal removals from the forests must be stopped. In addition, transparent regulations are needed for the sustainable use of this wonderful wood, which include the need to protect pernambuco, as well as practicable regulations for musicians and bow makers.
The further development of the musical instrument passport (MIP) in such a way, as with ID cards, that border crossings are possible without mandatory documentation (stamp) would be a good start for limiting bureaucratic effort and making the travel of musicians and orchestras with bows made of pernambuco uncomplicated.

 As an association, we recommend signing the petition on to highlight the complications that a higher classification of pernambuco brings and to find practicable solutions. As an association of musicians who are committed to nature, the preservation of the wild population of pernambuco is the top priority.

We would like to make a contribution to this. We are currently trying to find eligible projects in the Mata Atlantic and corresponding financing options - regardless of the future CITES classification.


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