Musical Bark: Endangerment Of The Pernambuco Tree
Musical Bark is a website produced by U.C. Berkeley undergraduate student Erica Smolin in my online research and web production course during the 2012 fall semester.
Pernambuco wood, which is native to the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Forest, has been extracted from its natural habitat for nearly 400 years. When the Europeans colonized Brazil in the early 16th century, they found what became a valuable treasure for years to come. This treasure was pernambuco. The wood was first used for dyes, and it quickly became a major industry within Europe. As time went on, Europeans realized the wood itself could also be used to make instrument bows. The endangered plight of pernambuco today is a result of its overuse throughout the centuries, as only a small percentage of the original forest remains.
So, what are the solutions and where is this issue headed? I’ve sought out five people who have different roles within the music industry: a bowmaker, a teacher, a player, a luthier and a salesman. I asked each of them how they feel this issue is affecting their line of work, what their main concerns might be, what changes they would like to see, what their opinions are on substitute materials, as well as where they see the issue headed in the future.
So what does the future hold? Though some were more hopeful than others, each of the people I interviewed said an optimistic future is achievable with appropriate actions. This site serves to address ongoing concerns, while also shedding light on what can be done to avoid further endangerment of the pernambuco tree.