14th September 2022

In July 2022 we asked members for feedback about the proposals to this year’s CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP19). The relevant proposals are Ipe (p. 102), Dalbergia Sissoo (p.110), Pernambuco (p. 116), and Khaya (p. 121).

The AMA consulted with members that deal with these materials, focusing mostly on Pernambuco, also on Dalbergia sissoo and Khaya.

Recent Developments

  • AMA spoke to relevant members (those that responded to a request for feedback) and estimated some figures for volume and value of instruments with some of these species;
  • AMA arranged and chaired a meeting with representatives from the CITES Management Authority, and members, to discuss the proposals and their potential impact here;
  • AMA wrote a submission for the CITES Management Authority, and referred to Musical Instrument Certificates in a National Cultural Policy submission;
  • The CITES Secretariat has released provisional recommendations
  • IUCN/TRAFFIC have released analyses of proposals.
Photo of a luthier making a bow


Summary of Consultation with Members

  • Dalbergia sissoo (Indian rosewood): Currently some Australian businesses import this species to make guitars, in manufacturing and by individual luthiers. The current settings require CITES export permits when the wood leaves India, but the burden on Australian businesses is modest. The proposal is to take Dalbergia sissoo out of Appendix II, ie. reduce its protection, which may not be necessary. The reason for its listing (that it looks like other rosewood, rather than Indian rosewood itself being under threat) remains.
  • Khaya spp (African mahogany): Many guitars are imported each year containing Khaya, and some is imported to make musical instruments here. The proposal is to increase regulation of Khaya (in Appendix II, with Annotation), this is generally seen as a justifiable and reasonable development so long as there is no permit requirement for finished instruments.
  • We found that members, in general, feel strongly about both protection of endangered species (including appropriate regulation, through CITES and national legislation) and exempting finished musical instruments from permit requirements, to minimise the burden on musicians. In other words, the burden of obtaining documentation and permits for trade in listed species should fall on the manufacturer, not the musician.
  • Related to this, Musical Instrument Certificates (MICs) are part of the international system for managing the sale, and movement across borders, of endangered species. They are not available or recognised in Australia, but the Samuel Review of the EPBC Act recommended introducing this system. The AMA has referred to this in both its submission to the CITES Management Authority and National Cultural Policy submission.
  • Paubrasilia echinata (Pernambuco) is the most contested proposal relating to musical instruments. The effect of the proposal (it its current form) would be significant for certain parts of our industry and place a high burden on musicians and CITES Management Authorities.

The rest of this update focuses on Pernambuco.


The leading NGO dealing with wildlife trade notes that “…the proposed annotation for the species if transferred to Appendix I is to include ‘all parts and derivatives, including bows of musical instruments, with the exception of musical instruments and their parts, composing travelling orchestras, and solo musicians carrying musical passports…Under that Resolution the use of “musical passports” only applies to Appendix I specimens acquired before the species was included in the Appendices, which in this case would be 2007 (the species was listed at CoP14), as well as Appendix II and III listed species.”

On this point, we estimated that 20,000 Pernambuco bows have been sold in Australia since 2007, so this development could impact thousands of musicians. IUCN/TRAFFIC noted that “Any movement of post-2007 musical instruments and their parts, unless recognised as from artificially propagated trees, would need to be permitted on a case-by-case basis in compliance with Articles III and VII of the Convention (for example personal and household effects or pre-Convention specimens).”

This analysis also notes that an Annotation with an Appendix I listing is unusual, with a suggestion:

“If the intention of the proponent is to subject finished products to CITES trade control, while allowing for use of musical passports in accordance with Res. Conf. 16.8 (CoP17), this could alternatively be achieved by amending the Proposal to retain the species in Appendix II with a change to Annotation #10 to this effect. No other species are subject to this annotation. Brazil could also submit a zero quota for wild-sourced commercial exports to be posted on the CITES website to indicate that trade in wild harvest of the species from Brazil is not permitted.”

CITES Secretariat

The secretariat agrees that “P. echinata has undergone a significant historical decline in its population size” but notes that “there is a lack of evidence to determine if the wild population is small or has a restricted area of distribution as claimed by the proponent.”

It is incumbent on the proponent (Brazil) to “consult with the Secretariat, the Standing Committee and, as appropriate, the Animals Committee or Plants Committee, to ensure that the annotation is appropriate and can be readily implemented”. The CITES Secretariat’s understanding is that “these consultations have not taken place.”

“The implementation of the annotation proposed appears to present a number of significant challenges and requires further consideration. The Secretariat will make further proposals in this regard after hearing the views of Parties and inter-governmental bodies consulted under paragraph 1 b) of Resolution Conf. 10.13 (Rev. CoP18) on Implementation of the Convention for tree species.”

What next? 

  • Music organisations are finalising their response to the Pernambuco proposal, to be released in September. This response has been informed by representatives from the Confederation of European Music Industries (CAFIM), French Musical Instrument Organisation (CSFI), International Federal of Violin and Bow Makers, and League of American Orchestras. The AMA has been involved and provided some feedback.
  • The CITES Secretariat will, closer to CoP19, publish its final recommendations on all proposals.
  • The Australian government is currently determining its response to all proposals, after consulting with stakeholders in Australia including the AMA.
  • CoP19 will be held from 14-25 November, 2022
  • The AMA will maintain contact as required with the Australian CITES Management Authority, members, and our international network.

If you have any questions please contact Alex.