Action Resumes on Musical Instruments and Protected Species Policy

November 14 to 25, 2022, the 184 worldwide parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will meet in Panama to participate in the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19), where international governments will agree to policies that balance trade and conservation needs for plant and animal species. The agenda for the meeting has been released and will include consideration of the Brazilian Pernambuco wood used to produce most bows played by professional string musicians. Talks will also include opportunities to improve the CITES Musical Instrument Certificate in use by traveling musicians and orchestras.

Between now and November, the League of American Orchestras and global music stakeholders, alongside conservation leaders, are preparing for discussions to support international policies that conserve the species that have been used in making musical instruments, while also supporting ongoing use and trade in instruments that may contain wood and other material from species that are now under protection. An international collaboration of global organizations representing musicians, musical instrument makers, and other music stakeholders has been directly participating in CITES policy discussions leading up to CoP19 and is shaping policy recommendations as more is known about the proposals under consideration.

Any new requirements or improvements in policy will be implemented 90 days after the November negotiations conclude. Each CITES participating country is represented at CoP19 by a governmental management authority that is also responsible for implementing CITES policies.

The CITES Musical Instrument Certificate is a streamlined permit that may be used for international travel with musical instruments that contain Brazilian rosewood, tortoiseshell, reptile skin, ivory, or other protected material. In partnership with CITES parties and the conservation community, music stakeholders have undertaken efforts to increase compliance with current permit requirements while simultaneously pursuing policy improvements that will alleviate unnecessary burdens. Music stakeholders are pursuing opportunities to streamline and harmonize the use of the Musical Instrument Certificate, and particularly seeking to alleviate the many burdens associated with inspecting instruments and credentialing the permits at international ports of travel.

Brazil is proposing to list its national tree, Pau Brasil, also known as Pernambuco, at the highest level of CITES protection (Appendix I), which would create new permit requirements for travel with all pernambuco bows used internationally, and significantly limit future commercial trade in these bows. When considering any new species proposal, the CITES parties take into consideration both the conservation status of the species and the trade impact to assess policies that can support sustainable trade. National and international organizations representing the bowmaking community and musicians are collaborating to ensure that the impact of any trade and travel restrictions are fully considered by CITES parties before new restrictions are adopted. Music sector stakeholders are seeking to work in partnership with CITES parties toward a policy solution that will support the sustainability of the Pernambuco species, while also preventing unnecessary burdens on travel and minimizing the impact on international musical commerce.

The CoP19 agenda also includes additional procedural recommendations and proposals to list under Appendix II of the convention the following species used in musical instruments: Handroanthus spp., Roseodendron spp., Tabebuia spp., Afzelia spp., Pterocarpus spp., and Khaya spp. The new controls on these species would require permits for logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood and transformed wood, but would not impose new permit requirements for travel or trade with finished products. Procedural policy recommendations include implementation of electronic permitting protocols that could significantly streamline the issuance and use of CITES permits.

Further details of the CITES CoP19 agenda and policy positions of the voting governmental authorities will take shape as the November convening nears.

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