A crackdown on illegal logging and deforestation in the East African island nation of Madagascar will be felt in the U.S. with a looming fine of $300,000 for the maker of the world-famous Gibson Guitar.
A criminal investigation into the illegal import of rare wood snared the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp which has now acknowledged it “may have violated” environmental protection laws in Madagascar. Gibson guitar owners include B.B. King and AC/DC’s Angus Young.
The musical instrument company had acquired unfinished ebony fingerboards through a supplier in 2008 and 2009. But under the U.S. Lacy Act it is illegal to import plant or animal products in violation of foreign laws.
The laws were intended to limited overharvesting and conserve valuable species,” explained Assistant Atty General Ignacia Moreno, with the U.S. Justice Dept.
Madagascar Ebony is a slow-growing tree species and supplies are considered threatened in its native environment due to over-exploitation. The harvest of ebony and export of unfinished ebony from Madagascar has been banned since 2006.
Gibson has also agreed to pay an additional $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to promote conservation of tree species used in the musical instrument industry.