Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of U.S. law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law. (More on the Lacey Act)
Many customers today are concerned about compliance with the Lacey Act. One of the easiest and best ways to ensure compliance on your part is to purchase woods only through reputable suppliers like LMI. We work hard to determine that the imported woods you purchase from us were harvested and imported legally and ethically. As a leader in the instrument grade woods business, LMI has a long history of supporting sustainable logging practices. We have always identified our woods by scientific name. In the 90’s we abandoned the sale of Brazilian Rosewood when the legitimate import of the wood became questionable. In 2005 we voluntarily stopped purchasing Pernambuco and in 2009 we discontinued Camatillo. All of these prohibitions were self-enacted by LMI, despite the profitability of these woods.
The ascendance of the global economy has constantly pushed the environmental community to keep up with economic pressures and, as a result, LMI participated in a Lacey Act convention held to help guide and explain the implementation of the Act in its most recent form. Our current wood handling procedures conform with the Act and we have enacted a program that ensures that all our wood vendors are in compliance with the laws of the United States and countries within which the woods are harvested.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. (More on CITES)
CITES is an international organization that regulates the import and export of plant and animal
species and materials in order to protect endangered species. Their rulings are legally binding in all of
the 182 countries who participate. It is CITES, for example, that strictly prohibits the import and export
of elephant ivory. There are three “Appendices” with Appendix I being used for the most stringent
protections (Ivory, Brazilian Rosewood) and Appendices II and III being less stringent.
In 2017, the CITES body added all Dalbergia species (Rosewoods of every kind)
to Appendix II unless the species was already on Appendix I. Other guitar woods are already at
Appendix II, the most common one being Honduran (or “genuine”) Mahogany.
All woods listed on CITES Appendices require CITES import/export permits and related fees and
forms in order to get the wood over an international border. This is why LMI does not sell Mahogany
blanks internationally. However, with Mahogany and some other CITES-listed materials, there is an
‘annotation’ on the ruling which allows for exceptions and exclusions to the import/export
restrictions. For this reason, we are able to sell a pre-carved Mahogany neck to an international
customer, but not a rectangular neck blank. We can sell mahogany kerfing, but not an electric guitar
body blank or bracewood blank.
The new ruling for Rosewood is different as there are no similar annotations. So, unfortunately,
when the new CITES ruling took effect on 1/4/2017 we and other wood sellers were no longer able
to feasibly retail any Rosewood part internationally, worked or un-worked unless annotations are
added to the listing. This includes Indian Rosewood, which unlike most of the other Rosewood species,
has been harvested and exported with great care and oversight by the Indian government and in many
cases, by third-party certifiers like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Why include Indian Rosewood along with other Rosewoods (which are threatened)? By lumping all the
Rosewoods together it removes the responsibility of customs officials from having to distinguish
between the different species of Rosewood, which can often be very difficult. Misrepresenting
Rosewood species (calling Cocobolo ‘Indian Rosewood’ for example) has been a common method of
We are attaching some helpful documents that relate to CITES materials. Note, these may not be the most up-to-date and you should always do your own research, but these should at least give you a headstart.