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b sharp

Pernambuco vs Brazil Wood

141 posts in this topic

My understanding of it is that the two names refer more to quality than differentiating the tree that the wood came from. You'll also find that some makers refuse to call wood pernambuco unless it exhibits a couple of traits found only in the finest examples. I'd just go with what the site you show says.

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Hmmm, nice link b, it seems one needs a leaf to differentiate the real thing from substitutes.

Bud

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"pernambuco" wood is named after the state in Brazil where it grows. it actually is a variety of brazilwood, and many people do consider it to be higher in quality than other species.

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The next obvious question is how can I as a buyer distinguish pernambuco from brazilwood? Is there any visual clues, or is it only in the playing characteristics?

[This message has been edited by b sharp (edited 01-22-2002).]

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As a lawyer and a resident in Brazil the only thing I can say is that ALL pernambuco and Brazil wood being sold is illegal.

Both are endangered especies and their commercialization is prohibited by the Brazilian Law and by International Enviroment Conventions. It`s as ilegal as getting an elephant tusk (with some blood sticked to it).

You may ask: well, but I can find it here. Yes, you can find it because commercialization is possible due to corruption. Prices paid for this wood is so high that a corruption system was introduced to make commercialization possible.

In general the wood is "legaly" exported under other wood name.

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In that case I will definitely not buy either, new or old. I hope other users of this board do the same.

Thanks for all the responses.

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I heard a rumor that a similar species of plant grows in Southeast Asia--this is apparently where some of the wood is coming from?

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Wasn't Horst John supposedly to have planted some pernambuco a few years back--just to make bows out of?

If the the Arcos Brasil site is correctly then Tourte wasn't exactly the first to popularize pernambuco as a bow wood--since it was alread being heavily used from 1501 on--as implied in the info

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Pernambuco and brazilwood takes 80 years or more to grow, so Horst was not able to use the wood he planted. There is no authorized commercial exploration of these especies here. If you want, you can contact some brasilian enviroment organization, such as WWW.

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People might be interested in aiding the efforts of the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative, which is spearheading a reforestation effort aimed at sustainable arboriculture.

They have a website at http://www.ipci-comurnat.org/

As far as the original question goes, pernambuco is "Caesalpinia echinata". Brazilwood is a more general term, referring to several related species, including Caesalpinia echinata, C. sappan, C. crista, and C. brasiliensis. So while pernambucco is thus a type of brazilwood, not all brazilwood would be pernambuco. At least that is my understanding.

-Claire

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Oh, additional trivia -- C. sappan is native to Indonesia and the Malay peninsula, and was well known in antiquity and through the Middle Ages as a dyewood. According to several sources I've seen, the Portuguese named the country Brazil after the valuable dyewood they found growing there.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that some brasilwood for bows was now being imported from Indonesia. Being C. sappan and not C. echinata, it would not be pernambuco, however.

According to IPCI, pernambuco can be grown to a commercially valuable state (for lutherie, not for dye) in 30 years.

-Claire

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Brazilwood extract is a crucial stain/dye for use by the medical field for testing. The dye has a known behaviour of penatration of cell walls and turns different colours with contact with differient substances. Viewed under a microscope, a particular colour showing in a stained tissue sample would indicate excessive Al, another colour would indicate Fe. Note again that this gives indications WITHIN the cell; hence it's importance.

There was a severe shortage back in the eighties or ninties, causing great concern as there were stain/dye alternates only for some of the many substance/tissue combinations tested for. Appearently for many tests, there is no alternative.

Medical grade extract is quite expensive. I seem to recall figures of .0001 % pure.

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quote:


Originally posted by MANFIO:

As a lawyer and a resident in Brazil the only thing I can say is that ALL pernambuco and Brazil wood being sold is illegal.

Both are endangered especies and their commercialization is prohibited by the Brazilian Law and by International Enviroment Conventions. It`s as ilegal as getting an elephant tusk (with some blood sticked to it).

You may ask: well, but I can find it here. Yes, you can find it because commercialization is possible due to corruption. Prices paid for this wood is so high that a corruption system was introduced to make commercialization possible.

In general the wood is "legaly" exported under other wood name.


I was under the impression that import and export of Pernambuco was possible with a license. Maybe Brazil has changed it's export laws recently???

Concerning Ivory/Pernambuco comparison: The CITES treaty is the predominant international action which restricts import and export of endangered species. Last I knew, this included Elephant Ivory, but did not list Pernambuco. Since we deal with the import/export of antique items; many having parts which are included in the endangered species listings (like the tips on bows); I expected we were pretty well up on this (and I just renewed our license this week)... Maybe I’m not! What specific restrictions do you refer to MANFO? Are they Brazilian law or International agreements?

Jeffrey

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In the link given, it states:

" Today, some sites where pernambuco wood occurs naturally are legally protected. "

(in the "conservation" section.)

i.e. in other areas presumably pernambuco is not legally protected and is OK to export....?

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Ole Bull: brazilwood (pernambuco) occurs naturaly only in the Northeast of Brazil, and is that wood that is protected. The best is named after the State in wich it`s found, that is Pernambuco State, that is in northeast region.

In other parts of Brazil (south, North, Amazon, "Cerrado" there is no natural occurrance of brazilwood. It is in this way the text must be interpreted.

If I buy an American Eagle in the USA black market and try to bring it to Brazil I`ll certainly be jailed. But if you try to take brazilwood from Brazil you will only be jailed if you call the Forest Police and say: Hey, I`m a bow maker, I`m taking this brazilwood to the States. Is there any problem? (PLEASE DON`T DO THAT, OUR PRISONS ARE HORRIBLE AND THIS CRIME IS VERY SERIOUS).

I`m working now in a big law suit, so unfortunatly I don`t have time to research. But I think if you contact WWW, or GREENPEACE (they have branches in Brazil) they will give you all information you need and the way wood is "legalized".

Perhaps brazilwood is not classified in the same section as ivory, but it`s exploration is prohibited. It`s almost extinct, as well as brasilian rosewood.

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MANFIO's comments are certainly a show stopper. But don't throw away your bows just yet. My understanding of Brazil's export ban is that its intent is more in the nature of trade protection than environmental protection. In particular, I believe the law (dating to the mid 1980s) restricts the export of raw logs. That means that some type of wood processing must take place in Brazil prior to export, which is good for Brazilian wood processors.

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Just a little more background. A good review on the biology/ecology, history, commercial use, and legal protections related to pernambuco wood is available at www.unep-wcmc.org/species/tree_study/2.pdf That's a big file: scroll down to the page on "Caesalpinia echinata." (The plant pages are in alphabetical order.)

Besides the export ban on raw logs (which actually dates to 1969, not the mid 80s), there are indeed some reserves where no cutting is allowed (as MANFIO indicates), but that restriction is not universal. Apparently there also is pernambuco under cultivation.

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to luthier and dealers__--are there then bows being made right now out of brazilwood of the Indonesian variety? Inexpensive Chinese bows then? Or are highend bowmakers already using this and making fine bows at that, but passing them to us consumers as "pernambuco"?

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Asking Greenpeace for a clarification of the law is like asking Ray Charles to drive you to the airport.

Rat

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Manfio--I think you're confusing several legal issues here. If you got an eagle out of the US, I doubt very much that the Brazillian authorities would give it a glance--it's not their job to enforce US laws. Nor is it the US government's job to enforce Brazil's laws. The international authority in these things is the CITES treaty, and pernambuco isn't covered, though ivory is--so internationally, they're not the same at all.

I don't know Brazil's law, but I bet RichF is right--that the restrictions aren't ecological, but economic. Countries with resources just HATE to see someone else getting the bulk of the econnomic advantage from them, and with woods it's been a common theme that the countries of origin require a certain amount of local labor to be used before the wood can be shipped. The local countries are more than happy to rape their forests--they just want to be the ones that make the money from it. Part of the CITES thrust is to prevent just that type of exploitation by local economies. I'm not saying that there's not a problem with pernambuco--only that the situation can't be compared to the ivory and tortoise shell in terms of the environemental issue. http://www.cites.org/

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Michael, thanks for the CITES reference. I hadn't seen that before. It may also be the case that restrictions on pernambuco exports are tied to the bigger question of protecting rain forests and habitat. That is, it may not be the loss of endangered trees so much as the damage from removing them that concerns people. U.S. citizens may well want to support that goal and even lobby the Brazilians to change their laws. But I just don't know if that concern applies to pernambuco. Again, it is legally logable (sic) in some places and legally exportable (after some milling). Heck, I don't even know if it's a pretty tree.

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OK Michael, the USA government has no obligation to give enforcement to brasilian law./

The exportation of brazilwood is just a consequence of the general prohibition of its comercial exploration, due to it's almost extintion. Its an enviroment problem, and not an economic problem.

The economic aspect is that poor brazilian people takes the risk to explore and export it to have their bread, since rich people are disposed to buy it.

I know brazilwood (pernambuco) is easily found in USA and Europe, but, be sure, IT'S ALL ILEGAL. Cocaine is easy to find too, but it's ilegal too.

Pernambuco is not a tree from the rainforest. It's from the Northeast of Brazil. If you go there to buy it you'll have to deal with people whose methods are the same used by colombian drug dealers.

It's reasonable thinking GREEPEACE is suspect. Try then to ask information in the nearest brazilian consulate or ambassy. Ask them about the possibility of importing brazil wood, and they will give you the same response on the spot.

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Determining the legal status in Brazil is not easy. I've tried, and neither the Greenpeace nor several Brazillian government websites are very informative. MANFIO, can you direct me so that I can see the wording of the applicable statutes. It is a sad fact that many advocacy groups do not provide balanced analysis: what they say is true may not be.

Otherwise the United Nations Environment Program website that I noted early has some information on the environmental status of trees: the UN indeed says that the Brazilians designate it as a threatened species, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) calls it endangered. You can look it up on the IUCN Red List ( www.redlist.org ).

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Michael: It would be difficult to clear the American Eagle in the customs (even) here...

They would ask for documents, sanitary certificates, and the poor bird would have to wait 40 days confined in a sanitary department.

What the law says is the following: every wood has to be a document by the IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for Enviroment) proving that it is a legal wood.

Well since the comercial exploration of Brazilwood is prohibited (and an enviromental crime) these papers are obtained by bribery and corruption. A person from the WWW sent me the law sometime ago and I`ll try to find it.

Many web sites count the history that favours them.

Believe me: exploring brazilwood is as illegal as exploring wild american eagles. By the way, brazilwood is the tree symbol of Brazil

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