(NOTE: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A MUSICIAN TO SIGN, Music lovers are welcome too! (However, please leave a comment in the “reason for signing” if you are a musician or involved in the music industry.)
I started this petition because I have seen the devastation of illegal logging in my homeland of Madagascar, and because there’s a huge opportunity for us to help stop it.
Growing up, I climbed trees in the lush green forest near my grandmother’s house. I spent hours fascinated, observing our island’s famous chameleons, birds, frogs and other rare species.
But today everything has changed. The forests I grew up in are being torn apart by illegal logging operations that are cutting 1,000 trees per day and hunting lemurs and other wildlife as bushmeat to feed the thieves. These timber gangs often abuse and terrorize the people of our villages as they ride through the streets in their covered pick up trucks with precious logs freshly stolen from Masoala National Park.
As a musician, I was ashamed to find that part of this illegal logging is driven by the music industry’s demand for the rare rosewood and ebony used in some high-end musical instruments. As a singer and songwriter, I know that no musician wants to contribute to rainforest destruction, endangered species loss, and human rights abuses. And I know that musicians want to ensure a healthy supply of tonewoods so we can continue to make great sounding music for years to come.
So, I did what musicians do best, and held concerts in the Sava region, including my hometown, to raise awareness about this issue. Over 23,000 people came by car, boat, and foot to stand up for the forests and to plant trees. This was just a first step. The people of Madagascar alone cannot stop the giant illegal harvest of wood, driven by demand in the United States and other countries. We need your help.
The main ray of hope in our efforts to save Madagascar’s forests from illegal logging is the United States’ Lacey Act, which since 2008, prohibits import of illegally logged wood, paper, and other forest products.
Even though the law hasn’t been on the books for long, it’s already having an enormous positive impact: music instrument manufacturers, furniture and paper importers are learning to ask key questions and demand of their supply chains assurance that their wood comes from legal and sustainable sources – i.e. NOT from national parks in Madagascar. According to a recent report by the independent monitoring group Chatham House, the Lacey Act has already helped reduce illegal logging by 22 percent around the world. I’m seeing change on the ground in Madagascar: because of their desire to comply with the Lacey Act, several major instrument manufacturers have stopped buying from the timber gangs in Madagascar.
Despite the successes, some manufacturers have come under scrutiny for continuing to sell guitars from illegal sources. In response, they’ve launched an enormous lobbying and PR campaign in Washington to destroy the law that prohibits illegal wood trade. These efforts have given a boost to the efforts of Asian pulp and paper conglomerates, aligned with Washington front groups, who see this as their window of opportunity to take the teeth out of a law that threatens their ability to continue and flood the U.S. market with illegally-sourced wood and paper products.
Congress and the music industry need to hear right away from American music lovers and music professionals that they support the law, so we can keep making progress in the fight to protect the world’s forests and the people and endangered wildlife that depend upon them.
Please join me in this fight to stop illegal logging in the rainforest of Madagascar and around the world!