MUSICIANS LEAD INDUSTRY SHIFT; Call for legal and sustainable sourcing of wood products

Press Release

Artists including Michael Franti, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, Guster, and Razia Said, lend their voices to the issue in new video

LOS ANGELES (Jan 20, 2015) – 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.  Released today as a video, musicians featured 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. This artist coalition is calling on all consumers to find out where their wood comes from so that together we can stop illegal logging.

“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’,” said Mickey Madden of Maroon 5“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.”

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, the U.S. law prohibiting 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,” said Lisa Handy, Senior Policy Advisor at EIA“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.”

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

“Our forests, especially our ancient forests, are the lungs of our earth and when we destroy them it’s like us giving the whole world emphysema or cancer,” said Michael Franti, speaking to the damaging effects of illegal logging on the global climate.

“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.

In late 2014, United States Forest Service scientists published an economic analysis showing that the Lacey Act had been successful in reducing U.S. 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. 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 wantonly depleted.

Policies are now in place to prohibit trade in black market wood in the United States, European Union, and Australia, supporting growing global demand for responsible sourcing of timber and wood products. Companies and timber traders around the world must be responsible in the global market, which demands transparency and accountability.

“The more we use our voice to create a larger demand for sustainable and legal wood,” said Jason Mraz“the more these businesses are likely to produce legal and sustainable wood.”