Global Environmentalists Gather to Discuss the Future of Tonewoods
Lehigh Valley, PA
September 7, 2023
C. F. Martin & Co.® (Martin Guitar) hosted its 8th Wood Summit at its headquarters in Nazareth. PA, with the purpose of bringing like-minded organizations together to discuss the current and future state of tonewoods. This year’s summit focused on Tonewood Species Under Pressure and included representatives from US Fish and Wildlife, the World Resources Institute, Forest Based Solutions, Preferred by Nature, the International Wood Products Association, and the Environmental Investigation Agency.
Attendees came far and wide to provide a multifaceted view of the current state of responsible and sustainable sourcing of raw materials, specifically the exotic woods from which Martin Guitar crafts its acoustic guitars.
The day began with factory tours for attendees before the morning session was kicked off by Martin’s Procurement Manager Albert Germick and Sourcing Specialist Michael Dickinson, followed by commentary from Martin’s President & CEO, Thomas Ripsam and Executive Chairman, Chris Martin IV.
Mr. Ripsam presented Martin’s sustainability program and discussed how it is the foundation of Martin Guitar’s strategic plans. Ripsam also talked about how environmental concerns make up the majority of the challenges facing the world and the guitar industry is no exception. “The future of tonewoods, especially exotic tonewoods, is in question and the time to act is now,” said Ripsam. “At Martin we are acting, and we hope the rest of the industry will follow.”
Chris Martin focused on the use of rare and exotic hardwoods, stating “You would think as Mr. Martin I would be the first person to argue to only use traditional rare exotic hardwoods for Martin Guitars. And yes, if there were enough rare exotic hardwoods to make all the Martin guitars the world demands I would be a champion of that idea. Unfortunately, traditional rare and exotic hardwoods are getting rarer, so it is incumbent on us, a multi-generational family business, that we embrace sustainability and alternative materials. I have been a fan of alternative materials for guitar building my whole career. And I'm doubling down on that as we celebrate our 190th anniversary.”
After an onsite lunch break, everyone gathered for a special dedication and tree planting ceremony in honor of Diane Martin, former Martin Board Member and late wife of Chris Martin.
The afternoon session included a presentation by Ashley Amidon, Executive Director of the International Wood Products Association which covered the expansion of their Wood Trade Compliance Training Courses and perspectives on initiatives to combat deforestation. The training course material, which has been adapted and expanded over the years, is designed to be as accessible as possible to those seeking to understand complicated regulations. Amidon also emphasized the importance of the association's assistance to businesses of all sizes and of keeping all members informed of activity around the globe.
Charles Barber, Director of Natural Resources Governance & Policy for the World Resources Institute, gave the audience his perspective on global deforestation trends and global tree cover loss in 2022. Barber shared that with the global loss of tree cover, we are losing one of our most effective tools for fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity, and supporting the livelihoods and health of millions of people. The institute uses research-based approaches, working globally and in focus countries to meet people’s essential needs; to protect and restore nature; and to stabilize the climate and build more resilient communities.
Other speakers included:
- Mitchell Nollman - Vice President Sales & Customer Engagement, C.F. Martin & Co.
- Rob Garner - Forest Based Solutions
- Cindy McAllister - Director, Intellectual Property, Community and Government Relations, C.F. Martin & Co.
- Angus McAuslan - Regional Manager, Preferred by Nature
- Ankit Yogi - Overseas Traders
- Anne St. John - Senior Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife
- Syrena Johnson - Branch of Permits, Division of Management Authority, US Fish and Wildlife
- Susanne Breitkopf - Forest Campaign Deputy Director, Environmental Investigation Agency
The next Martin Guitar Wood Summit is planned for 2025.