Skip to comments.Why Gibson guitars ran afoul of logging rules, and why activists are in Anaheim for NAMM
Posted on 01/20/2012 3:33:45 AM PST by Son House
Over the last few years, guitars and a sort of obscure law against illegal logging have come into conflict. Environmental activists are in Anaheim today, at the National Association of Music Merchants trade show, to do a raising awareness song-and-dance about this. Literally: they've got a musician with them.
The guitars are Gibsons, and the law is the Lacey Act. An NPR colleague reported on this issue from Tennessee last year. Gibson is just a flash point: federal law enforcement officials have investigated the company on the suspicion that it broke laws in India and Madagascar. The Lacey Act makes it illegal to import and trade in illegal timber. (For more about how that's determined, check out the resources from NGO Environmental Investigation Agency.) The idea's to make the supply chain more transparent; U.S. importers of wood products must file a declaration identifying the species name and country of harvest.
Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, has been talking since it's been raided to all and sundry about his frustration at the loss of millions of dollars from the raids, and the (to date) lack of charges filed. "The government has chosen to persecute us," Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson told the Heritage Institute. "We actually have done nothing wrong. No charges have been filed at this point." Juszkiewicz cuts a fascinating figure because he has worked closely with the Rainforest Alliance in the past. In the Huffington Post, he actually has advocated for tougher logging rules.
Remember, conservation laws try to combat illegal logging to protect ecosystems, to protect biological diversity, and to minimize climate impact. In places like Madagascar, there's controversy about corrupt practices, collusion among the "timber mafia" and the government. Despite that, Gibson believes it's on firm ground.
Plenty of people don't agree. EIA's Andrea Johnson told NPR:
"Gibson clearly understood the risks involved," says Johnson. "Was on the ground in Madagascar getting a tour to understand whether they could possibly source illegally from that country. [ed.: she says she meant "legally"] And made a decision in the end that they were going to source despite knowing that there was a ban on exports of ebony and rosewood."
Interestingly, Martin and Taylor Guitars are very vocal in their support for the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act requires more due diligence on the part of the receiver of the wood than there was in the past. We cant just take someones word that the wood were buying is legit," Bob Taylor said. "Even if your act was already clean, youre going to have to clean it up even more.
The Gibson case seems to be making people paranoid. Some lawyers are asserting that anybody who travels with a guitar overseas could get it ripped from their hands if it's got old-growth forest wood in it. Congress responds well to this kind of alarm; Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill last fall to loosen Lacey regulation of instruments (more about that in a bit). Even so, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has explicitly said that Lacey Act enforcement won't target individual people, musicians or bands. They say Rosanne Cash is safe. (So do NRDC and legal scholar Jonathan Turley.)
The musician in Anaheim today is Razia Said. (Listen to Seattle-based KEXP's live set with her.) She grew up in Madagascar, in the northeast, Antalaha, and moved as she grew, landing in New York. There she sang jazz standards until she toured Madagasar again. Now her sound includes some of the traditional stringed instruments of Malagasy music, and guitar. "The Masoala Rain Forest is being looted of it's irreplaceable endemic Rosewood trees. 1,000 trees a day are being ripped out from one of the worlds most bio-diverse habitats. Thousands of species are on the run and risk extinction as illegal loggers continue to strip the forest bare. The only way to stop the plunder is by drawing attention to the crime by involving local communities, Madagascar and the world."
So that's sort of generally why they're here. Tomorrow I'll write more specifically about the legislation that NAMM's lobbyists are pushing to weaken the Lacey Act, co-sponsored by California Republican Mary Bono Mack.
Rosewood doesn’t grow here.
“The Masoala Rain Forest is being looted of it’s irreplaceable endemic Rosewood trees. 1,000 trees a day are being ripped out from one of the worlds most bio-diverse habitats. Thousands of species are on the run and risk extinction as illegal loggers continue to strip the forest bare.
What an over reaction to making guitars. Trees on the run, 7000 trees a week ripped out.
Thats a lot of wood, Everyone in China learning to play Stairway to Heaven?
Load of BS
oops, there go the early morning typing skills. ;)
onbe = one
Unless somewhere in the world they are framing houses with rosewood, this lady is spewing crap.
Thanks Son House. NPR carrying water for Zero’s regime, what a surprise.
I go to the NAMM show every year. Gibsons are great but I’m a Stratocaster man myself.
“No charges have been filed”
And none will be.
The federal government now operates by no-knock and warrantless searches, administrative forfeitures, indefinite detention and extorted guilty pleas though years of harassment and penury through court cost fees.
It’s to stop terrorists, don’t you know?
But if the fretboards were made in India...everything would be cool...right? Clearcut as many trees as they like.
From a 330 owner : This government angle is all smoke. Gibson is a non-union shop by choice of the employees.
THAT’S what the harrassment is about.
What a bunch of crap.
If I see a tree, I cut it down. “Old growth” is a pagan romantic myth. Trees grow like grass - they just do it on a time scale not suitable to human desires.
My whole town is heavily wooded, with lots of forest lands. In 1790, before the news came that there was land in Ohio that didn’t grow granite boulders and didn’t break plows, pictures show a completely bare landscape of open fields and stone walls.
That regulating the growth of these very useful plants in foreign countries is the subject of ANY activity by the government at Washington is sick, sick, sick.
1. this is from a Cali NPR station.
2. the author (Molly Peterson) is a Cali Weird Eco Freek.
Her website. Look at her family entries and look at here bio page.
Why aren’t these countries farming trees? Why does everyone (wrongly) act like trees don’t grow and get old? Today’s young trees are tomorrow’s old growth. It’s an absurdity. There is no reason why climates that grow certain prizes species of trees can’t be planting more. Some trees grow slow and there must be some planning involved, but I see no reason why there cannot be a good stock of rosewood and ebony and whatever other woods we desire.
Gibson’s latest run in had nothing to do with illegally harvested trees. The issue was that it had not been worked by Indian workers. And we all know how important Indian workers are to our government.
If you can’t afford a Gibson, go to work for the DOJ. I can only imagine how many of those have left in trunks. “Guitar Walker” I would guess most intelligent people do not see the DOJ as having integrity.
Love And Death And American Guitar lyrics I remember everything! I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.I was barely 17 and I once killed a boy with a fender guitar. I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster,but i do remember that it had a heart of chrome and a voice like a horny angel. I don't remember if it was a Telecaster or a Stratocaster, but I do remember that it wasn't at all easy. It required the perfect combination of the right powerchords and the precise angle from which to strike. The guitar bled for about a week afterwards and the blood was ooh... dark and rich like wild berries. The blood of the guitar was Chuck Berry red! The guitar bled for about a week afterwards and it rung out beautifully , and I was able to play notes that I had never even heard before. So I took my guitar and I smashed it against the wall!! I smashed it against the floor!! I smashed it against the body of a varsity cheerleader!! I smashed it against the hood of a car I smashed it agianst a 1981-Harley Davidson... The Harley howled in pain, the guitar howled in heat! I ran up the stairs to my parents bedroom Mommy and Daddy were sleeping in the moonlight slowly I opened the door creeping in the shadows right up to the foot of the bed I raised my guitar high above my head and just as I was about to bring the guitar crashing down upon the center of the bed my father woke up screaming: "stop...wait a minute..stop it,boy" "what do you think you're doing??? That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument" And I said "god damn it, daddy!!!You know I love you....." "BUT YOU GOT A HELL OF A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!"
If the Fed’s charge Gibson (Republican donor), they had damn well go after all the other guitar manufacturer’s (Democrat donor’s) who ALL USE THE SAME WOOD.
This is nothing more than going after a republican donor instead of about wood.
That’s why I finally own one of each. Love ‘em both for different reasons. By the way, my Strat DOES have a rosewood fingerboard, just the way I like it.