Vsa Talk Educates Makers on Endangered Tree Species
Olwell, Greg, Strings
They're coming for your feedback, not your wood
One of the most important issues facing the stringedinstrument trade is the blossoming enforcement of the Lacey Act and Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), federal and international laws regulating the use of rare bow woods and other materials. During its recent annual meeting, the Violin Society of American (VSA) hosted an informative talk by two government representatives tasked with public outreach on this crucial issue facing luthiers, archetiers, and species of plants and animals worldwide.
The lecture was promoted, in part, by a highly publicized and politically charged, 2011 raid by federal agents on the Gibson Guitar factory in Nashville, during which agents seized nearly a quarter million dollars worth of allegedly illegally harvested tonewoods. Last fall, the charges were dropped.
The talk included guest speakers Gary Lougee, the Lacey Act staff officer for the US Department of Agriculture s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and Anne St. John, a biologist with the Fish & Wildlife Service's CITES Division of Management Authority.
Broadly, APHIS monitors the plant products, like lumber, while FWS controls such animal products as ivory.
The presentations were fueled by an interest in communitysourced ideas for developing a reasonable approach to enforcing laws meant to stem the trade in illegally harvested materials - and hopefully prevent extinction of valuable species. Both reps talked at length about the background and scope of the laws before taking questions from the audience that dove into some specifics about the materials used in new and vintage bows and instruments.
First enacted in 1900, the Lacey Act is the oldest wildlife protection statute in the United States. It was amended in 2008 to broaden the act's protections, with the intent of preventing the trade of illegally harvested lumber and its products. The Lacey Act requires timber harvesters to obey the laws of the state or country of origin. The act also states that you can be charged even if you're not the person cutting down the tree. Part of the enforcement requires that documentation - declaring the genus and species of each item and the country where the species was harvested - accompany products made from certain plants. APHIS's website has large number of detailed, user-friendly instructions to guide users through the submission process. …