SUVA, FIJI – Fiji has launched a new mahogany hardwood brand, Fiji Pure Mahogany, registering it in 28 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, and Hong Kong.
The wood brand, which Fiji says is the first to be held by a sovereign nation, is accompanied by mandatory and enforced harvesting, processing and supply chain protocols intended to ensure compliance with environmental laws, including the United States Lacey Act.
"We must establish a foundation for Fiji Pure Mahogany that is credible, that is trusted, and that the indigenous landowners, consumers, businesses and governments around the world respect,” said Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in a statement issued at a kick off event in April.
Held at the Sustainable Mahogany Industries factory in Fiji - the first company granted a license to use the Fiji Pure Mahogany brand - the event included Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitars; Pembroke Jenkins, past president of the U.S. Hardwood Manufacturers Association; Sustainable Mahogany Industries owner John Wagner; United States Ambassador to Fiji Frankie Reid; and members of the Fijian landowning units.
Sustainable Mahogany Industries produces the bodies and necks of Gibson Guitars. The Nasville, TN-based guitar maker has been embroiled in controversy over U.S. enforcement of Lacey Act regulations, including two separate raids of Gibson Guitar factories.
Jenkins, who is also president and owner of Turn Bull Lumber Company and Oceania Hardwoods, LLC, said, “This is important to world lumber markets and this effort should make Fiji the leading producer of legal Genuine Mahogany in the world.”
The Fijian government says it has been working for some time on the mahogany branding effort, passing a Mahogany Industry Development Decree in March 2010 which made Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited a forestry management company, and established the Mahogany Industry Council to license mahogany purchasers and sawmill operators, and direct the development of the industry.
The Mahogany Industry Licensing & Branding Decree was passed on 13 December 2011. This Decree established the chain of custody protocols; harvesting code of practice; minimum production and packaging standards; inspections and audits standards; certificate of legality standards; safety standards; and penalties for violations of the protocol.
In the past four years, more than 1,000 hectares of mahogany have been replanted on the volcanic island nation of 850,000, located about 2,300 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.