Bow makers rise up against the threat of a veto on the pernambuco trade

Are bow makers in danger of disappearing? To suffer the fate of the climbers, Ivorians or cabinetmakers who worked the Rio rosewood? The world of music rises to the fore to oppose Brazil’s proposal to ban the trade in pernambuco wood, the only one used for the manufacture of bows. This text will be put to a vote at the next conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) to be held in Panama from November 14 to 25. The European Commission and France will meet on Wednesday, November 9 to adopt, no later than Friday, November 11, their position, which will be decisive for starting exchanges in Panama.

The government of Jair Bolsonaro, in office until December 31, had denounced the illegal trafficking of paubrasilia echinata or pernambuco, found in the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil. He wants this species to be more protected and moved from CITES Appendix II, which is already extremely restrictive, to Appendix I, which would prevent any repopulation of this wood. Only the stock could be used, which has already been declared since 2007. The scope of this illegal traffic is not measured and affects many species of exotic wood, often exported to China. Jair Bolsonaro himself is accused of having favored the creation of gigantic monocultures to the detriment of the Amazon jungle.

Edwin Clément, bow maker: “The musicians’ freedom to move with their bow would be greatly hampered”

“It would result in the death of our profession as bowmakers and would have devastating consequences for everyone in classical music. The musicians’ freedom to move with their bow would be considerably hampered.”says bow maker Edwin Clément, the best craftsman in France. And it would also hurt luthiers, ensembles and orchestras who would have to deal with grotesque administrative arrangements. A big deal for tours as each arch must have a passport and clearance for each customs clearance. Only baroque musicians would not be affected by this measure since they do not use this wood, whose properties were discovered in 1775 by the French archer François-Xavier Tourte (1748-1835).

Also read: The archers cry the pernambuco

“No boat has survived once the material used has been included in Appendix I of Cites”explains Edwin Clément. However, the pernambuco remains, for 250 years, the only one that can be used to make bows. Its qualities of stiffness, flexibility, density and its ability to produce the best curved clubs remain unmatched. The idea of ​​replacing it with another material excites this craftsman. “We have been looking for another wood for 250 years, it is always less good”, he said. As for carbon fiber, “It is highly carcinogenic”remember.

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