Analysis May 2021: Seeing the wood for the trees


A new campaign is under way to save Brazil’s endangered pernambuco tree, the wood most favoured by bow makers. The goal is clear, but the devil is in the detail. By Anthony Fort

The chances of an endangered species becoming the focus of a conservation effort are boosted if the species in question is of use to some sector of the human population. Paradoxically for the environmentally conscious, this produces situations where those fighting most for a particular species belong to an industry that has contributed to its demise. This is true of Brazil’s pernambuco tree, whose endangered status has resulted partly from the expansion of the bow trade, and whose future depends on efforts of bow makers to help replace those trees. As a 2019 article in Strategies and Tools for a Sustainable Rural Rio de Janeiro put it, ‘Current conservation and plantation efforts are mainly enforced and financed by bow makers, violin makers and musicians, who might be the most affected stakeholders.’..

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