CITES - protecting our planet

There is quite a bit of controversy about CITES within the guitar loving community. Let me set one thing straight, though. CITES is good! It is an agreement between governments to protect our planet by ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants doesn’t threaten the survival of the species in the wild. I totally support this – and who in their sensible minds would not?

So – what does any of this have to do with guitars? Well, guitars are most often made of wood. And when harvested according to sustainable principles, there’s nothing wrong with that, either! Some of the common tonewood species used in guitars are however listed in CITES, in one of its various categories (Appendix) defining the degree of protection needed for each species.

Most of the tonewood species we use do not require any certification. There are a couple of exceptions though – especially now as all the rosewood variations – over 300 of them – were added to CITES on January 2nd, 2017. I’ve compiled into this article information about those very few CITES listed species we use, and how this may affect your life in some rare occasions.

East Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia Latifolia) was added to the CITES Appendix II (with special amendment that requires not only the raw materials, but also the finished products to be registered) in January 2017. No worries, though. We’ve got you covered. Our East Indian rosewood originates in state governed forests in India, and we buy it from reliable European FSC certified suppliers. If you live within European Union, there is no need for CITES certife when you buy a guitar from us – the paperwork of the guitar will have the legal CITES status of the guitar clarified. If you live outside European Union, we will provide the CITES export license with your guitar.

If you own a Ruokangas guitar with East indian rosewood fretboard, made before January 2017, the guitar is treated as a pre-convention item, and no certification is needed, unless you sell your guitar to another country, crossing customs borders. In those cases you’ll get the certificate from your the CITES authority of your own country. But who wants to sell guitars anyways? Buying them is much more fun!

Brazilian Rosewood (Dalbergia Nigra) was listed in 1991 to the CITES Appendix I – the most strict category of protection there is – and guitars with Brazilian Rosewood parts always require certification. We have a small stock of legal and CITES certified pre-convention Brazilian Rosewood available, and occasionally we’ve used it in our guitars in the past, too. If your Ruokangas guitar has a part or parts made of Brazilian Rosewood, you always receive the CITES certificate from us (or your Ruokangas dealer) with the guitar automatically. Keep the certificate safe. If the paperwork gets lost, we can not necessarily provide you a replacement. However, if your Ruokangas guitar warranty card says ‘Brazilian Rosewood Fretboard’ but there is no CITES certificate included, feel free to contact us for assistance. We’ll do our best to help you out.

If your Ruokangas guitar or bass warranty card says ‘Rosewood’, it is always East Indian Rosewood – never Brazilian. Since 2012 we’ve had both the trade & latin name of all the wood species listed in the warranty card.

Spanish Cedar (Cedrela Odorata) is listed in the CITES Appendix III. This means that only the lumber needs to be licensed, when it is exported from the country of origin. So it’s basically our tonewood suppliers’ headache, not ours, and definitely not yours. For finished products no certification or registration is needed, or even available. This means that no CITES certification is required nor available to your Ruokangas guitar made of Spanish Cedar.

What will the future bring? Well, none of us has the crystal ball. I advice you to keep the documentation safe, that shows when your Ruokangas guitar was made. For example – now as the East Indian Rosewood was added to CITES (in January 2017) – in case you would decide to sell your pre-convention era guitar, and you happen to find a buyer from another continent – then you need to apply for a CITES export license. Now it helps you to have the documents (invoice/receipt, warranty card and/or certificate of authenticity) at hand. If you do not have any of such documentation saved, however, feel free to contact us for assistance.