Fiji launches sustainable mahogany brand

2 May 2012

New hardwood brand Fiji Pure Mahogany has been launched by the country’s prime minister to meet demand for a legal and sustainable mahogany.

One US hardwood company described the move as “important” to world lumber markets and which should make Fiji the world’s leading producer of legal genuine mahogany.

A launch ceremony in the country was attended by the US ambassador to Fiji Frankie Reid, Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitars and Pembroke Jenkins, past president of the US Hardwood Manufacturers Association.

Fijian prime minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said the branding and mandatory compliance protocol process for Fiji Pure Mahogany would ensure sustainability, legality, and the socially responsible use of timber.

The brand is being filed in approximately 28 countries throughout the world, including the EU, to protect its intellectual property right. It is the first brand of its kind to be owned by a sovereign nation - Fiji.

It is intended to ensure compliance with numerous environmental laws, including the United States Lacey Act.

“Fijian mahogany is becoming a sought-after timber and is being differentiated from other lumber in the rest of the world,” the prime minister said.

“Increased exports of value-added goods and the licensing regime are the culmination of new thinking, focused attention and perseverance, amidst skepticism. We must all continue to work to see the potential here is realised.”??

The launch event was held at Sustainable Mahogany Industries’ factory in Fiji - the first company granted a license to use the Fiji Pure Mahogany brand.

It is using mahogany grades 1 and 2 to make bodies and necks for Gibson Guitars. Other applications for licences to purchase Grades 3, 4, and 5 are currently being reviewed.

Two years the government passed the Mahogany Industry Development Decree, which made Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited a forestry management company, and established the Mahogany Industry Council to license mahogany purchasers and sawmill operators, and direct the development of the industry.

Only four years ago Fiji was not replanting mahogany trees, but today more than 1,000ha have been replanted.

The Mahogany Industry Licensing & Branding Decree, passed in December 2011, established the chain of custody protocols; harvesting code of practice; minimum production and packaging standards; inspections and audits standards; certificate of legality standards; safety standards; and penalties for violations of the protocol.

“The Fijian government is taking bold steps in ensuring that its mahogany resource is both legally harvested and sustainably managed,” said Pem Jenkins, president and owner of Turn Bull Lumber Company and Oceania Hardwoods.