July 6, 2010

Greenpeace, along with guitar manufacturers Fender, Martin, Gibson, and Taylor have joined together to promote changes in logging practices for the woods used to make musical instruments. Currently the “MusicWood Coalition” is encouraging private landholders in Alaska to apply for certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which would entail adopting logging practices that would safeguard the survival of the region’s remaining ancient forests while continuing to produce high quality wood. The initiative is starting with Sitka spruce, commonly used as the soundboard for acoustic guitars and pianos and considered the heart of the instrument

“In many regions we could be a short time away from the end of
the Sitka spruce trees large enough to provide wood for guitar
parts. That could change through different logging practices.” Bob
Taylor, President, Taylor Guitars

Guitar builders require wood from trees that are over 250 years
old for both aesthetic and tonal reasons; the coastal temperate
rainforest of Alaska and Canada are the main sources of Sitka
spruce.  This forest type is considered the rarest on Earth. 
According to an extensive, several year analysis of the region’s
timber market initiated by Greenpeace, over eighty percent of
southeast Alaskan timber ships to Asia, primarily for
home-building, with the bulk of the remaining wood used for door
and window frames in the United States.  In reality, guitar
companies use very little wood from these forests, however the
current partners believe that together they form a powerful
coalition that can and must conserve the rare woods needed for
instrument making, as well as the forests that are their home.

“We are seeking to partner with people closer to the forest that
are trying to manage these valuable, precious resources more
judiciously,” said Chris Martin, Chairman and CEO, C. F. Martin
& Co., Inc.

Last summer Greenpeace arranged an educational tour in Alaska
for a group of representatives from all four guitar companies. 
“We’re starting to see similar trends with many of the species that
are traditionally used to make musical instruments,” said Scott
Paul of Greenpeace.  “Our coalition is starting with Sitka spruce
but in the future we hope to address other tree species under
increasing threat.”  In Alaska, the group visited untouched forests
and clear-cut tracts; they met with local communities, ecology
experts and officials from Sealaska, the largest private landowner
in southeast Alaska and a major supplier of Sitka spruce.

“Sustainability of wood is critical to the long term viability
of our industry.  If we manage our natural resources properly, we
will be able to offer beautiful guitars to musicians throughout the
world for generations to come…” Matthew Janopaul, President and
COO, Fender Musical Instrument Corp

Greenpeace has been in discussions with private land logging
companies in Alaska and many of their customers in the U.S. and
Japan to promote FSC certification. 

“The FSC is doing an exceptional job addressing what are very
complex issues in a way that people can understand and implement.
We are FSC certified.” Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman, Gibson Guitars
and Baldwin PianoFor more information, see www.musicwood.org

Other contacts: CONTACT: Steve Smith, Greenpeace, (202) 465-5352 (cell) or [email protected]

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