Information on Pernambuco bows

Pre­pared by: Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Musi­cians of the Unit­ed States and Cana­da (AFM), The Inde­pen­dent Soci­ety of Musi­cians (ISM), Inter­na­tion­al Alliance of Vio­lin and Bow Mak­ers for Endan­gered Species, Inter­na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion of Musi­cians (FIM), League of Amer­i­can Orches­tras, Musi­cians’ Union (MU), Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Music Mer­chants (NAMM), Pearle* Live Per­for­mance Europe
1. How well do I know my Per­nam­bu­co bow?

Per­nam­bu­co wood is used in most advanced stu­dent and pro­fes­sion­al bows. The Per­nam­bu­co (Paubrasil­ia echi­na­ta) tree is native to the Atlantic forests in Brazil, and its pop­u­la­tions are threat­ened. Bow own­ers and users can take vol­un­tary actions to

1. Sup­port sus­tain­able plan­ta­tions of Per­nam­bu­co and con­ser­va­tion efforts,

2. Doc­u­ment basic facts about the wood used in their bows, and

3. Be informed consumers.

Vol­un­tary steps today can help to avert the pos­si­ble need for trade restric­tions later.

2. Do I need spe­cial per­mits to buy, sell, or trav­el with my fin­ished Per­nam­bu­co bow?

In most cas­es, spe­cial per­mits are not required. How­ev­er, on Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, new rules went into effect, requir­ing CITES per­mits for all Per­nam­bu­co wood the first time it is export­ed from Brazil – includ­ing, for the first time, fin­ished bows exit­ing Brazil.

The vast major­i­ty of Per­nam­bu­co bows made over the past two hun­dred years were already locat­ed out­side of Brazil before the newest rules came into effect and are not sub­ject to these new per­mit require­ments. Still, all bow own­ers and con­sumers should bet­ter under­stand the his­to­ry of the bows they own, gath­er basic facts and doc­u­men­ta­tion, and learn how to take action to help sus­tain the Per­nam­bu­co trees in their native habi­tat for future generations.

3. What is CITES?

The Con­ven­tion on Inter­na­tion­al Trade in Endan­gered Species of Wild Fau­na and Flo­ra (CITES) is a treaty that reg­u­lates inter­na­tion­al trade in ani­mal and plant species. It pro­vides a frame­work for coop­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion among its mem­ber Par­ties (most coun­tries glob­al­ly) to ensure that inter­na­tion­al trade in spec­i­mens of ani­mal and plant species is legal and does not threat­en their sur­vival in the wild.

Species are list­ed in three CITES Appen­dices, each pro­vid­ing a dif­fer­ent lev­el of con­trol over trade. As a musi­cian, orches­tra, or music ensem­ble, you might be aware that mate­r­i­al used in musi­cal instru­ments, such as ivory, lizard skin, and Brazil­ian rose­wood, is already under CITES control.

CITES Par­ties meet every two to three years at the Con­fer­ence of Par­ties (CoP) to re-eval­u­ate con­trols species-by-species. Groups rep­re­sent­ing music stake­hold­ers par­tic­i­pate in these pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions, and the lat­est one took place in Novem­ber 2022 in Pana­ma (CoP19).

4. How does CITES pro­tect Pernambuco?

Since Sep­tem­ber 13, 2007, the Per­nam­bu­co wood used in bows has been includ­ed under CITES Appen­dix II, with rules that require any wood mate­r­i­al export­ed from Brazil (up to the unfin­ished “bow blank” stage) to be legal­ly and sus­tain­ably har­vest­ed and accom­pa­nied by CITES per­mits when trad­ed inter­na­tion­al­ly. How­ev­er, until Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, fin­ished bows were not sub­ject to CITES require­ments or con­trols and could trav­el with­out CITES permits.

As of Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, CITES per­mits are required for all Per­nam­bu­co wood the first time it leaves Brazil – includ­ing fin­ished bows. CITES Par­ties adopt­ed these mea­sures at CoP19 in an effort to halt the traf­fick­ing of Per­nam­bu­co wood and bows and to pro­tect the wild pop­u­la­tions of Per­nam­bu­co. Vol­un­tary steps today can help to avert the pos­si­ble need for trade restric­tions later.

5. If I don’t need a CITES per­mit to buy, sell, or trav­el with my Per­nam­bu­co bow out­side of Brazil, why do I need to learn more about how it was made?

Now that CITES is reg­u­lat­ing bows as fin­ished prod­ucts in this new way for exports from Brazil, it is wise to proac­tive­ly have a record to make clear for future resale that your bow is CITES com­pli­ant with the lat­est rules.

If it was locat­ed out­side of Brazil before Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, or made into a fin­ished prod­uct out­side of Brazil, doc­u­men­ta­tion of these facts is a help­ful way to estab­lish that your bow is exempt from the new per­mit rules for fin­ished products.

If it was export­ed as a fin­ished bow from Brazil with a CITES per­mit after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, records of the required CITES per­mit should be retained. 

6. How do I know if my bow was made with Pernambuco?

Seek out a bow­mak­er or luthi­er to eval­u­ate the mate­r­i­al and con­firm the wood in the bow. You can ask for a writ­ten dec­la­ra­tion from a bow­mak­er or expert eval­u­a­tor describ­ing the mate­r­i­al in the bow. Many old­er bows do not have iden­ti­fy­ing marks from their mak­er. Make the best effort to col­lect the following:

– Dat­ed third-par­ty instru­ment eval­u­a­tion, not­ing mak­er, approx­i­mate year made, and material

– Iden­ti­fy­ing pho­tographs, includ­ing any mark­ings or dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of the bow

7. How can I prove that my bow was already out­side Brazil before Feb. 23, 2023?

Make the best effort to doc­u­ment your bow’s birth­date, pur­chase date and loca­tion. The new CITES per­mit export require- ment only applies to fin­ished bows (as well as fin­ished musi­cal instru­ments, fin­ished musi­cal instru­ment acces­sories, and fin­ished musi­cal instru­ment parts) export­ed the first time from Brazil on or after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023. The fol­low­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion can help estab­lish the legal­i­ty of exist­ing bows:

– Dat­ed receipts of sale

– Dat­ed insur­ance policy

– A signed affi­davit attest­ing to the date (or approx­i­mate date) the bow came into your own­er­ship out­side of Brazil

– A signed state­ment from the mak­er ver­i­fy­ing the bow was legal­ly crafted.

If your bow was made and sold after Feb. 23, 2023, you prob­a­bly have one or more of these doc­u­ments already. If you don’t, you should con­tact the mak­er or sell­er and ask for them. Most bow-mak­ers are now well-informed about the new legal envi­ron­ment and are aware that cus­tomers are seek­ing documentation.

Gath­er­ing this evi­dence can help estab­lish that the bow was already a fin­ished prod­uct locat­ed out­side of Brazil when the new CITES reg­u­la­tions came into force and, there­fore, was not ille­gal­ly export­ed from Brazil with­out a CITES per­mit or any oth­er doc­u­ment required under Brazil­ian law.

8. What should l keep in mind when trav­el­ling with my bow?

Remem­ber: as long as you are out­side Brazil, a CITES per­mit is not required when trav­el­ling with a fin­ished bow unless it con­tains oth­er mate­r­i­al cov­ered under CITES con­trols, such as sea tur­tle or ele­phant ivory. If you plan to trav­el to Brazil with your Per­nam­bu­co bow, it will be crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant to gath­er evi­dence (see sec­tion above) that your bow was already out­side of Brazil pri­or to Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023 or was legal­ly craft­ed after that date. In the absence of such evi­dence, you may be faced with seri­ous com­pli­ca­tions on your depar­ture from Brazil.

9. How can I deter­mine whether the Per­nam­bu­co used in my bow is CITES-compliant?

Bows made and locat­ed out­side of Brazil pri­or to Sep­tem­ber 13, 2007 (when Per­nam­bu­co was first includ­ed under CITES Appen­dix II) are con­sid­ered “pre-Con­ven­tion” under CITES, which means that no his­toric CITES paper­work (e.g., per­mits) con­nect­ed with the wood used to make the bow was required.

For bows made after Sept. 13, 2007, out­side of Brazil, con­fir­ma­tion that the wood was export­ed from Brazil pri­or to Sept. 13, 2007, or was trad­ed inter­na­tion­al­ly with a CITES per­mit or pre-Con­ven­tion cer­tifi­cate can help estab­lish its legal origin.

10. How can I be an informed con­sumer and reseller?

Bows export­ed from Brazil on or after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, must be accom­pa­nied by a valid CITES export per­mit issued in Brazil (the same is true for bows that have been in tran­sit from Brazil and reached their coun­try of des­ti­na­tion on or after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023).

It is very impor­tant to ascer­tain the legal­i­ty of the bow(s) com­ing into your pos­ses­sion after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023, by request­ing proof that a CITES per­mit was not required or a copy of the valid CITES export per­mit. In case you decide to re-sell your bow in the future, your buy­er will prob­a­bly ask you to pro­vide the doc­u­ments out­lined above as evi­dence of its legal ori­gin. Stay tuned as we learn more about the per­mit process that Brazil­ian CITES author­i­ties will adopt for fin­ished bows export­ed on or after Feb­ru­ary 23, 2023.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, con­tact your nation­al CITES author­i­ty.

11. How can I take action to sup­port conservation?

We all have a vital­ly impor­tant role to play in ensur­ing the con­ser­va­tion of the Per­nam­bu­co species in Brazil and the future health of the threat­ened for­est ecosys­tem in which it grows.

Learn more about how you can sup­port the Inter­na­tion­al Per­nam­bu­co Con­ser­va­tion Ini­tia­tive and its work to sus­tain the species and find more infor­ma­tion here: IPCI Ger­many, IPCI Cana­da, IPCI USA, Inter­na­tion­al Alliance of Vio­lin and Bow Mak­ers for Pro­tect­ed Species, infor­ma­tion in French.

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