Musicians Raise Awareness About Illegal Wood In Documentary Short Premiering May 17 at Grammy Museum
Members of Maroon 5 and Guster Examine both illegal logging and sustainable community forestry practices In the Guatemalan rainforest With REVERB and the Environmental Investigation Agency
LOS ANGELES – Since humans first combined wood and strings to create music, instrument-makers have prized certain hardwoods for their beauty and resonance. But years of poor resource stewardship and illegal logging have decimated many forests where those hardwood trees grow, causing untold environmental, economic and societal damage to the regions involved.
It’s an issue that affects everyone who plays or appreciates those instruments, according to Adam Gardner of Guster, co-founder and co-director along with his environmentalist wife, Lauren Sullivan, of the nonprofit organization REVERB. As part of REVERB’s campaign to raise awareness about the relationship between instruments and the source of woods used to make them, Gardner and Sullivan visited the Guatemalan rainforest with James Valentine and Jesse Carmichael of Maroon 5, accompanied by the Environmental Investigation Agency, to document the effects of illegal logging and the success of sustainable alternatives. Their 20-minute film, Instruments of Change: Lessons from the Rainforest, will premiere May 17 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
The invitational evening will feature a Q&A, including music, with Gardner, Valentine, Carmichael, EIA and REVERB, moderated by Grammy Foundation vice president Scott Goldman. A cocktail reception will follow.
Illegal logging has devastating effects on delicate ecosystems, wildlife and biodiversity, as well as local populations who depend on forest resources. According to climate scientists, deforestation and illegal logging cause more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s air, road, rail, and shipping traffic combined. In addition to climate impacts, issues surrounding illegal wood harvesting include lethal violence against activists, human rights violations, job losses, negative economic impacts and species extinction.
“This issue is very similar to blood diamonds,” says Gardner. “It’s about knowing that what you buy has deep impacts far afield from the store you bought it from.”
REVERB and EIA have worked together since 2012 to encourage musicians, fans, instrument manufacturers and lawmakers to support sustainable logging and call for action against those who trade in stolen timber.
“It’s the demand for these woods that drives this whole industry,” says Valentine. “I don’t think consumers are aware of the problem, and change could happen if consumers start to ask where their wood is coming from.”
EIA led a broad coalition of environmental, industry and labor groups to support Congressional action to amend the Lacey Act in 2008 to prohibit the trade of illegally sourced timber and wood products. When attempts were made to weaken the law in 2012, Gardner testified before Congress and, through REVERB, mobilized fellow musicians to sign a pledge supporting the law and committing to ask about wood sourcing before purchasing new instruments. The pledge list includes artists from Mick Jagger, Bob Weir, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson and Sting to Lana Del Rey, Lilly Allen, and Brandi Carlile.
REVERB began carrying this message of illegal logging awareness to concertgoers with the 2013 Last Summer on Earth tour featuring Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Guster. Since then, Maroon 5 and other acts have asked fans to sign postcards supporting the Lacey Act, which are then sent to their respective congressional representatives.
REVERB and EIA also produced a short educational video, Getting in Tune: Musicians for Legal and Sustainable Wood. Artists speaking on the subject include Linkin Park, Jason Mraz and Michael Franti who notes, “The forests, especially our ancient forests, are the lungs of our earth. And when we destroy them, it’s like us giving the whole world emphysema.”
REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit leading the environmental movement within the music community. Founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster, REVERB creates and executes comprehensive greening programs for touring artists, festivals and concert venues engaging music fans to take action for the environment. REVERB has worked with over 190 major tours (Maroon 5, Jack Johnson, Alabama Shakes, Linkin Park, etc.) supporting over 3600 environmental groups and reaching over 22 million fans across North America.
About the Environmental Investigation Agency
The EIA is a 501(c)(3) independent, international, non-profit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime and campaigning to protect endangered species and the natural world. For over 25 years, EIA’s Forest Campaign has documented illegal logging and associated trade and supported civil society organizations engaged in forest governance reform around the world. EIA uses evidence obtained from investigations of illegal timber trade flows to push for meaningful policy reform and enforcement to stem the demand and funding for these illicit activities.
SOURCE: REVERB.org and the Environmental Investigation Agency