Mahogany, ebony, and rosewood. For decades, these and other rare tropical hardwoods have been extensively logged to produce valuable wood products, particularly guitars and other instruments. Increasingly aware of the impacts to forests and communities from over-harvesting, many instrument manufacturers have taken steps to make their supply chains more sustainable. Now, musicians are joining the call to make sure guitars and other instruments are made from legal, sustainably sourced wood.
This week the Environmental Investigation Agency and REVERB released a video featuring artists such as Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, and Michael Franti urging consumers to find out where their wood comes from. These artists understand that consumer demand for legal and sustainable instruments is an integral part of stopping illegal logging.
Illegal logging threatens communities by destroying the forests on which they depend, depriving local governments of tax revenue and funding organized crime. In many cases, illegal logging operations encroach on communities, using threats of violence, with workers facing dangerous working conditions and human rights abuses.
Mickey Madden from Maroon 5 likened illegal logging to the diamond trade, noting illegally sourced wood can be considered "blood wood." In the video, Madden states, "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."
The United States is helping lead the fight against illegal logging with the Lacey Act, a groundbreaking law that prohibits the importation of illegally sourced wood. Companies must take due care to ensure their wood is sourced legally, with violators facing fines or jail time.
To make an impact, next time you purchase a wood product, ask whether the wood was sourced legally and sustainably. After all, if the customer is always right, consumer demand can help reduce the supply of illegally sourced wood. By ensuring companies source their products legally and asking the government to enforce the Lacey Act, together we can lead the fight against illegal logging.
This post originally ran on the Sierra Club's blog, Lay of the Land.