International Coalition of Instrument and Bow Makers for Endangered Species

Over the past 40 years, we have had to adapt to increasing restrictions on ivory, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, and pernambuco. Today, we can add ebony and rosewood to this list and, before long, perhaps maple and spruce. These changes have come fast and will come faster in the future.

We all have struggled to keep up with surprise announcements about CITES and national rules to protect natural species without sufficient input from our trade. As the global population grows and more pressure is put on the environment, we anticipate that we will be facing new restrictions on natural resources for the rest of our lives. In the face of this strange new set of challenges, we need to change the way we think about the raw materials we use in our profession.

As independent artists and small business people, we must unite to work together or else surrender our right to be heard by the organizations formulating these regulations. We need a strategy that is consistent and forward-looking rather than reacting to the latest environmental controls.

We need to engage with the organizations proposing rules and restrictions as well as demonstrating our commitment to protecting resources by funding and creating conservation projects like the IPCI and conservation education.

Experience has taught us that consistent engagement and representation is crucial to build trust and relationships with the organizations and agencies that control our access to natural resources. These relationships allow us to assist in creating rules that protect natural resources used in traditional instrument and bow making. And we need to be represented by individuals who have experience communicating with these agencies and their representatives and understand the inner workings of this world.

It is clear that no single association of luthiers and archetiers has the resources to make a lasting contribution. By joining together and sharing these costs, we hope to have a positive effect on the regulations, and enhance our reputation as careful stewards of the natural resources we use.

EILA’s roots as a post-WWII entity established to preserve and guide our craft is evolving to meet this current need. To this end, we propose forming a simple coalition of like-minded groups, without the administrative burdens of a new organization, with communication and payment coordinated by the EILA. We believe the international nature of the EILA provides a unique advantage in this respect.

Our aim is to help create rules that preserve these materials for the future, permit appropriate access for their use, and protect the legitimate interests of musicians as well as instrument and bow makers. Our desire is to uphold the highest standards of artistic instrument and bow making and make it possible for our grandchildren to enjoy working in our art in the same way we have.