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Home » Legislative Update » Action Resumes on Musical Instruments and Protected Species Policy

Action Resumes on Musical Instruments and Protected Species Policy


As the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Conference of the Parties (CoP19) meeting approaches, November 14-25, I thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the AFM’s ongoing work related to Brazilian Pernambuco wood and the transport of instruments containing protected species.

The AFM works on this issue alongside the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and our US coalition led by Heather Noonan, vice president for advocacy at the League of American Orchestras, who serves as the lead nongovernmental organizer and negotiator for US CITES protocols, in cooperation with FWS. Noonan has worked in this capacity for almost 20 years and has always been inclusive of the AFM.

The US coalition, which also serves as the international delegation to CITES CoP international gatherings, is expansive. The delegation’s CITES presence and comments/input over the years has been led by the FWS. It maintains a division dedicated to the daily management of the US involvement in the conservation of endangered flora and fauna species around the globe.

2022 CITES Protocol Focus and the Brazil Proposal

The following statement has been developed in cooperation with US CITES collaborators-coalition partners, which includes the AFM, to provide clarity on the upcoming Panama meeting:

From November 14 to 25, 2022, the 184 worldwide parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will meet in Panama to participate in the 19th Conference of the Parties (CoP19), where international governments will agree to policies that balance trade and conservation needs for plant and animal species. The agenda for the meeting has been released and will include consideration of the Brazilian Pernambuco wood used to produce most bows played by all professional string musicians even if you are not a member of any AFM ROPA, ICSOM, or OCSOM orchestra. Talks will also include opportunities to improve the CITES Musical Instrument Certificate in use by traveling musicians and orchestras.

Between now and November, global music stakeholders and conservation leaders are preparing for discussions to support international policies that conserve the species that have been used in making musical instruments, while also supporting ongoing use and trade in instruments that may contain wood and other material from species that are now under protection. An international collaboration of global organizations representing musicians, musical instrument makers, and other music stakeholders has been directly participating in CITES policy discussions leading up to CoP19 and is shaping policy recommendations as more is known about the proposals under consideration.

Any new requirements or improvements in policy will be implemented 90 days after the November negotiations conclude. Each CITES participating country is represented at CoP19 by a governmental management authority that is also responsible for implementing CITES policies.

The CITES Musical Instrument Certificate is a streamlined permit that may be used for international travel with musical instruments that contain Brazilian rosewood, tortoiseshell, reptile skin, ivory, or other protected material. In partnership with CITES parties and the conservation community, music stakeholders have undertaken efforts to increase compliance with current permit requirements while simultaneously pursuing policy improvements that will alleviate unnecessary burdens. Music stakeholders are pursuing opportunities to streamline and harmonize the use of the Musical Instrument Certificate, and particularly seeking to alleviate the many burdens associated with inspecting instruments and credentialing the permits at international ports of travel.

Brazil is proposing to list its national tree, Pau Brasil, also known as Pernambuco, at the highest level of CITES protection (Appendix I), which would create new permit requirements for travel with all Pernambuco bows used internationally, and significantly limit future commercial trade in these bows.

When considering any new species proposal, the CITES parties take into consideration both the conservation status of the species and the trade impact to assess policies that can support sustainable trade. National and international organizations representing the bow making community and musicians are collaborating to ensure that the impact of any trade and travel restrictions are fully considered by CITES parties before new restrictions are adopted. Music sector stakeholders are seeking to work in partnership with CITES parties toward a policy solution that will support the sustainability of the Pernambuco species, while also preventing unnecessary burdens on travel and minimizing the impact on international musical commerce.

The CoP19 agenda also includes additional procedural recommendations and proposals to list under Appendix II of the convention the following species used in musical instruments: Handroanthus spp., Roseodendron spp., Tabebuia spp., Afzelia spp., Pterocarpus spp., and Khaya spp. The new controls on these species would require permits for logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood, and transformed wood, but would not impose new permit requirements for travel or trade with finished products. Procedural policy recommendations include implementation of electronic permitting protocols that could significantly streamline the issuance and use of CITES permits.

For further details of the CITES CoP19 agenda and policy positions, please contact my office at or 718-679-5366.

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Your vote is your voice! It is your way to exercise your right as an American citizen to “right the ship” and steer it into safe harbor. The 2022 US national midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, November 8.

Each state and county manages its own electoral process, and you must first check to see if you are registered to vote. Consult to check your voter registration, register to vote, request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, find your polling place, or sign up to be a poll worker.

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