The Brazilian government is to formulate an action plan to preserve the country's endangered national tree, the Pau brasil, source of bow makers' pernambuco wood. The Ministry of Environment has announced that a National Programme for Pau-brasil Conservation will be established, based on the findings of a working group that includes government agencies and research institutes.

In an official statement, the ministry outlined the goals of the programme: 'Reassess the conservation status of the species, identify conservation areas and remnants of Atlantic Forest that harbour populations of the species, and promote sustainable use and commercial tree plantations with the participation of government and private enterprise.'

The indication that the government is considering commercial use for some of the new trees to be planted is a significant step for bow makers outside Brazil, who have not had a legal source of new wood since pernambuco was added to the CITES Appendix II in 2007. 'This is a big thing. It's what we've all been working for,' said Yung Chin, a New York-based bow maker and a director of the US branch of the International Pernambuco Conservation Inititative (IPCI).

IPCI has led a pernambuco conservation programme in Brazil's Bahia state since 2005, driving research into cultivation strategies, mapping tree populations, carrying out inventories, and planting more than 150,000 seedlings. For Chin, the government's new programme is vindication of IPCI's progress: 'They've realised that what we started was a good thing, and they want to do this on a national scale.'