Gibson USA, in an effort to continue and strengthen its commitment and support of sustainability in its wood supply chain announced today a plan to further address legality of such issues with the assistance from the Rainforest Alliance. In late 2009, Gibson facilities in Nashville were investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for allegedly violating the Lacey Act (a law requiring that all wood products and plants imported into the United States come from legal sources).
While on site, officials found rosewood from Madagascar, and the investigation on its legality is still pending. Meanwhile, Gibson Chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, is taking steps to ensure that the company's entire supply chain comes from legal sources and will work with the Rainforest Alliance toward eventually sourcing entirely from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests.
Gibson's efforts towards more sustainable sourcing began almost ten years ago when Juszkiewicz began to work toward FSC certification of Gibson's supply. The Lacey Act enforcement has increased the urgency of these efforts, while at the same sending a very instructive note: securing FSC-certified supply is critical for Gibson, but also must be accompanied by a clear commitment to eliminating any volume, no matter how small, of illegal wood that may contaminate its supply chain.
Gibson's sourcing initiative has six key elements -- all of equal importance and emphasis:
- Gibson is eliminating risk in its supply chain by identifying potentially illegal or unsustainable sources, banning future purchases of ebony or rosewood from Madagascar, and requiring all future purchases are from documented legal sources.
- The company is establishing a baseline of its entire supply chain to determine which woods come from known or unknown, legally verified, or sustainably certified sources (FSC as the goal).
- Gibson will source FSC-certified or Verified Legal wood, and progress against the baseline will be independently audited by the Rainforest Alliance and formally reviewed by Gibson's Chairman and CEO each year.
- Gibson will continue to invest in the sustainability of its supply chain, providing support community, indigenous and small and medium-sized enterprises working toward FSC certification to help build more FSC-certified supply.
- The company is looking at alternative sources to reduce the need for rare woods, including composite materials, recycled woods, and sourcing from FSC-certified forests whenever possible.
- Gibson's Chairman and CEO has appointed an individual to lead Gibson's wood sourcing initiatives globally, as well as people within each division and mill, who will be accountable for sourcing tracking and improvements.
As evidence of Gibson's long-term commitment to these issues, the company can already point to some concrete progress obtained over the last few years:
- Gibson supply managers have visited Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, and various parts of the US and Canada seeking to expand FSC-certified supply.
- Gibson is supporting independent verification of legality for wood sources in India.
- Gibson has provided through the Gibson Foundation approximately US $240,000 in support for community, indigenous and smaller enterprises since 2008 in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and Bolivia, and investments in calendar year 2010 will total approximately $170,000.
- Gibson is testing new composite materials and alternative species for use in electric and acoustic guitar fret boards.
Gibson production facilities are located in the USA and China, including longstanding legacy facilities in Nashville, Tenn., and Bozeman, Mont. Wood species used in these products include maple, mahogany, rosewood, ebony, Sitka spruce, nyatoh and various others, including species originating in places ranging from Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the US.
The Rainforest Alliance fully supports the Lacey Act and was a pioneer for forestry certification with the founding of its SmartWood program in 1989. The organization helped to found the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in 1993 and is now a leading certifying body to FSC standards. In addition to certification, the Rainforest Alliance verifies legality of timber, analyzes supply chains for risk, designs and implements procurement policies and helps communicate partner successes.
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