Blackwood slowdown nearing end
When dalbergia melanoxylon – commonly known as African blackwood – was added to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) Appendix II on January 2nd of this year it resulted in a virtual halt in all exports of blackwood pipes outside of the European Union, severely hindering business for pipe makers and dealers.
But the flow of new bagpipes should start up again on February 10th, according to top bagpipe makers. CITES certificates, required for every new set of blackwood pipes, had not been made available until now, essentially stopping international sales.
“The CITES certificates are available for application as from Friday, so it’s all starting to move now,” said Kenny MacLeod, owner of McCallum Bagpipes in Kilmarnock, Scotland, one of the world’s most popular Highland pipe manufacturers. “They anticipate there will be a fairly big backlog though. It’s not just bagpipe makers that this applies to, but hopefully in another couple of weeks the problem will be over.”
Many high-end woodwind instruments, including clarinets and oboes, are made from African blackwood. Pianos and other instruments also use dalbergia melanoxylon as a preferred material.
“The speed at which the CITES regulations have been implemented has caused great confusion and the delay in obtaining permits due to the lack of an EU listing has had a short-term effect,” said Alastair Dunn, head of R.G. Hardie & Co., another of the world’s most popular makers. “As the regulations settle down and businesses get used to the process we don’t foresee any issues in the longer term with regards to bagpipe sales. Small purchases that require a permit do become prohibitive and we have been working with our worldwide dealers to discuss the most cost-effective way of maintaining supplies.
Most bagpipe makers of size prefer that customers buy from their worldwide network of dealers that carry their instruments. As CITES permits are required and additional expenses are incurred, some costs are inevitably passed along to customers.
“We always advise customers to purchase from their local dealers and going forward we only expect a small increase in the price of blackwood products as businesses factor in the added administration required,” Dunn added. “There will be anomalies and misinterpretations over the coming weeks and months and we have, for example, already . . .