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NAMM Kicks Off, Musicians Join Nonprofits to Call for Legal Wood in Instruments

This week, headliner musicians released a video to shed light on how illegal trade in precious woods, used in instruments and other wood products, devastates global forests. Driven by the connection between their music and the tonewoods which have often been central to the creation of music, these artists joined EIA and REVERB in demanding timber traders and manufacturers engage in legal and sustainable trade.

This call from musicians comes as music industry giants descend upon Anaheim, California today for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) annual trade show, which runs through January 25th. As the public call for responsible trade builds, from headline musicians to consumers, it is crucial that timber traders and manufacturers ensure their showcased products contain legally-sourced wood.

Using the power of their music, artists are building awareness of the major environmental, social, and economic impacts of illegal logging that is destroying forests critical to community livelihoods, endangered wildlife, and the stability of our global climate.

The artists in the video include Razia Said, Jason Mraz, Michael Franti of Michael Franti & Spearhead, Adam Gardner of Guster, James Valentine and Mickey Madden of Maroon 5, and Brad Delson of Linkin Park.

Razia Said, a New York-based singer-songwriter and native of Madagascar, has seen the devastation of illegal logging firsthand in the forests of her homeland. Through her music and tours, she testifies about the effects of deforestation such as damage to local drinking water and increased extreme weather activity like cyclones.

The continued global market for illegal wood from Madagascar is essentially giving a green light to illegal loggers to destroy the unique timber and wildlife species found throughout the country and particularly in regions that are “protected” such as Masoala National Park and other World Heritage sites. These parks are home to thousands of animal and plant species, such as lemurs, found nowhere else on earth.

Related to Malagasy forests, the music industry may recall Gibson Guitars was the subject of a U.S. Lacey Act violation investigation—the first major investigation under the Act’s 2008 amendments, which made it [illegal to import illegally harvested wood] to the United States. In 2012, Gibson entered into a criminal enforcement agreement with the U.S government, acknowledging that they had—knowingly— imported illegal ebony from these national parks of Madagascar.

Musicians don’t want their instruments to be made at the expense of the world’s precious forest ecosystems. “We work really hard to make sure the tours are green and that we act in an environmentally conscious sort of way, so it would be totally hypocritical to be playing these instruments that have sort of bad karma,” said James Valentine of Maroon 5.

Illegal logging is prevalent in many countries, from Peru to Malaysia and beyond; forests home to desirable tree species are exploited to produce musical instruments, furniture, or other wood products. Destined for the United States, the European Union, China, and elsewhere, precious rosewood, mahogany, and ebony fetch top dollar in finished products, but too often originate from local abuses, tax evasion, and theft in the forests where it grows. The illicit timber trade ravages forests, and undercuts responsible and legal traders in the United States and around the world.

To give power back to companies playing by the rules and people trying to protect their forests, the Lacey Act aims to keep plants and animals sourced through illegal and destructive means out of U.S. showrooms. By closing markets to illegal products, we keep our hard-earned pay out of the hands of criminals who destroy forests and wildlife.

In 2012, EIA and REVERB, began working together to strengthen the call from musicians for traceable and sustainable wood products and to demand full enforcement and implementation of the U.S. Lacey Act. More than 30 leading artists have signed REVERB’s musician pledge to support the Lacey Act and fight off attacks that would have weakened rules to stop illegally logged timber from entering the United States.

However, the Lacey Act only works if it is fully funded, implemented and enforced. This is why musicians are now calling on consumers to join them in asking how wood products are sourced, and to demand legal wood through enforcement of the Lacey Act.

We are all connected in the fight for the future of music, forests, and our planet.

To find out more about the Lacey Act and illegal logging, check out these resources:

-Frequently Asked Questions about the U.S. Lacey Act: The World’s First Ban on Illegal Wood Products

-Setting the Story Straight—The U.S. Lacey Act: Separating Myth from Reality

-Video – Harmful Effects of Illegal Logging

-The Ongoing Illegal Logging Crisis in Madagascar

-Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers

-The Laundering Machine: How Fraud and Corruption in Peru’s Concession System are Destroying the Future of its Forests

-Rosewood and the Illegal Logging Crisis in Belize

-Routes of Extinction: The Corruption and Violence Destroying Siamese Rosewood in the Mekong

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