Rosewood Regulation Changes

The guitar industry and rosewood regulation changes

So I found this out the hard way when I was contacted by the US imports department regarding a guitar I had made and sent to a customer in Alabama. Apparently with little warning new rosewood regulation changes had taken effect on January 2, 2017 that called for documentation when shipping instruments internationally that contain any amount rosewood – and that goes for ALL species of genus Dalbergia. I was drilled on the materials used for the guitar and whether any of the timbers where species now found on the newly enlarged CITES Appendix II protected species list. Fortunately they weren’t or I would have incurred fines – instead I just had a customer who had to wait a day or so more for his guitar.

When Did These Changes Come Into Effect

The Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) held a conference from September 24 – October 4 this year in Johannesburg, South Africa where it was decided that all species of rosewoodunder the genus Dalbergia and three bubinga species (Guibourtia demeuseiGuibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii) will be protected under CITES Appendix II.

Implementation Of CITES COP17 Listing Of Rosewood

For many years now Brazilian Rosewood has been protected under CITES law, however this change in international policy will move all the other (nearly 300 species) of rosewood under the same regulation.Obviously this includes the current next best thing to Brazilian Rosewood, East Indian Rosewood and Cocobolo.

Cocobolo Lumber

Cocobolo Lumber I purchased from a farmer without knowing what it was:

When purchasing any species of Dalbergia from a timber merchant, we should now ask to obtain a CITES certificate from the country it came from if it arrives after January 2, 2017  – this is then submitted as part of the ‘Re-Export certificate’, even if the instrument was made with Dalbergia or the other regulated woods that were acquired before January 2, 2017 – such as a vintage instrument, it must still be accompanied by a CITES certificate and marked pre-convention when shipping internationally.

So for those of us that produce instruments containing rosewood or who sell vintage instruments within it construction we are now required to apply for a CITES Re-Export Certificate with each sale. This incurs an application fee of around £65 and up to 8 weeks wait for it to come through (should you submit the correct documentation and it be granted it).

CITES Imports & Exports Guidance

The RE-Export Certificate :

Guidance on completing the RE-Export Certificate:

Within the UK, once the application has been completed this should be sent along with a cheque to:

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
Centre for International Trade – Bristol
Floor 3
Horizon House
Deanery Road,
Tel: +44 (117) 372 37 00 
Fax: +44 (208) 415 25 10 
Email: wildlife.licensing @

In Reflection

In reality illegal timber logging is a horrendous business and perhaps this move is a progressive one towards a more ecologically conscience international community, whether or not these rosewood regulation changes and implementations function as they are intended, only time will tell.

Illegal Rosewood Logging

rosewood regulation changes

Kind of unfortunate for those of us that do source our timber ethically and responsibly to be caught and inconvenience by extra hoops to jump through – maybe as many articles around have already hypothesised perhaps this is the end to the use of rosewood within instruments – there are plenty of composite materials out there these days that could prove more beneficial than those traditional tone woods, I guess part of it is overcoming the stigma and pomp.

///// Here’s some interesting info on alternatives to traditional timbers given the rosewood regulation changes;

Building A Sustainable Guitar Index

Check this interview out – around 3 minutes in where Randy Parsons, (one of if not the best contemporary American Luthier) talks about the composition material of his fretboards now (if anyone reading this can tell me what the material is called, please email me about it – he calls it ‘recycled newspaper so I believe its called ‘Richlite’ which Gibson use) – pretty amazing stuff and if Randy Parsons is ready to move away from rosewood, maybe those of us still using it for our guitars should seriously consider another material too…

Building A Sustainable Guitar: Ebony