Sign up to our newsletter:

Caesalpinia echinata

Image: pau brasil seed
Credit: Global Trees Campaign

Many aspects of the biology of Pernambuco and the composition and structure of the plant community in which it occurs are poorly known.

Pau Brasil is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. It has been heavily traded for over 500 years initially as a source of red dye and more recently as timber. Since the early 1800s, C.echinata heartwood has been used for making bows for violins, violas, cellos and basses. Most professional bows nowadays are made from C.echinata, which is highly valued for its combination of durability, flexibility and resonance. No comparable substitute material is known and it is seen as an essential material to bow-making, still unsurpassed after several hundred years. It is estimated that a single violin bow costs up to $5000 and uses 1 Kg of wood. Despite national legislative protection, there is a significant trade in C.echinata for bow making. This is estimated to be worth millions of (US) dollars a year and is likely to represent significant illegal exploitation.

It is hoped that the Appendix II listing will help to manage the trade in Pau Brasil so that remaining populations are not reduced to the extent that they would warrant inclusion in Appendix I. To protect livelihoods, an annotation exempting finished products has been adopted, whilst still ensuring regulation of the main parts and derivatives in trade.

More info can be found on the globaltrees website