Digitisation Meets Species Conservation: Documentation Work Where You Don’t Expect It

Today, we are going to take an admittedly somewhat exotic journey into the world of digitisation and its consequences. Rosewood trees have been under species conservation protections since the start of this year. To be more specific: more than 300 species of rosewood are now protected. Not all rosewood sub-species are threatened by overexploitation and illegal logging. However, customs and commercial inspectors have a difficult time differentiating between rosewood species – which is why the law now protects endangered and non-endangered species alike.


Another Beneficiary? The Sub-Family of Papilionaceous Plants

This is a good thing for the Dalbergia, which experts also commonly place as a plant species in the sub-family of papilionaceous plants – which are of course within the legume family. People cut them down to harvest rosewood trees. It’s less positive for the musical instrument trade. The industry prizes the high-grade wood above all for its acoustic properties, which make it good for instrument building. The same is true of Bubinga, which is now also partially protected.


Millions of Musical Instruments Affected

Anyone selling musical instruments needs to take two steps: First, they need to take stock and decide which instruments were already in their possession before the new version of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) came into effect. For all newly purchased, built, or sold instruments, sellers need to meticulously prove the source for the woods used. Accounting to fulfil species protection requirements is mandatory.


This is a significant amount of work, and may include submitting certificates or proving that a guitar was built before 2017 and doesn’t represent an illegal use of the wood. Millions of musical instruments need to be listed within a short period of time, otherwise draconian penalties could be imposed during an export, import, or sale.


A Digital File for Every Instrument?

To stay in a musical context for a moment: Just sounding the drum beat isn’t going to do you any good – what you need now are nimble fingers tickling the ivories of digitisation. There are certainly a sub-set of importers and major musical instrument retailers who would be well advised to learn about the possibilities of document management and digital files. Isn’t that a compelling “melody”? All you have to do is click on an entry and you have immediate access to all the saved certificates and permits you need. This could help you complete some reviews much more quickly, and above all with fewer missed notes.