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Taylor’s Ebony Project has planted 1,500 ebony trees in Cameroon as part of a larger effort to secure a stable supply of the vital tonewood long into the future.

Taylor Preserves Vital Raw Material
With Ebony Project

Planting 1,500 ebony trees in Africa part of broad effort to secure the future of a vital tonewood.

Taylor Guitars has announced the planting of 1,500 West African ebony trees in Cameroon’s Congo Basin region, as part of an effort to preserve the future of a tonewood vital in the construction of fine guitars. The effort, part of Taylor’s “The Ebony Project” initiative, is the largest known planting of West African ebony. The project is part of a larger effort to plant 15,000 ebony trees by the end of 2020.

In Western Africa, agricultural land conversion, the bushmeat trade, and logging have significantly reduced ebony populations, imperiling a vital raw material for the guitar industry. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the species as “vulnerable.”

Taking action, in 2011, Taylor Guitars and Spanish tonewood supplier Madinter International partnered to become the co-owners of Crelicam, an ebony sawmill in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with the goal of creating an ethical, socially responsible value chain for ebony musical instrument components. Five years later, Taylor partnered with the Congo Basin Institute to study ebony ecology. The collaboration has since produced groundbreaking research, providing the most accurate estimates of the size and scope of ebony’s native range, as well as capturing the first-ever images of insects that pollinate the ebony flower and mammals that distribute the ebony seed. This has led to the development of an innovative community-based agroforestry program, which includes the planting of a number of locally used fruit and medicinal trees along with ebony. The project is fully funded by Bob Taylor, co-founder and president of Taylor Guitars.

“I’ve dedicated most of my life to building the best guitars I can make,” Taylor said. “Taylor is known for its high standards of quality and performance, but now I want to make sure we’re also creating a better future for ebony and leaving more than enough resources for generations of instrument builders long after I’m gone. That’s why this planting is so meaningful.”

The scope of Taylor’s innovative work in Cameroon has attracted significant attention: The U.S. State Department recognized Taylor with its prestigious Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE), while interest from leading international institutions such as the World Bank resulted in the signing of a Public-Private-Partnership agreement between Taylor Guitars and Cameroon’s Ministry of Environment to explore scaling up The Ebony Project across Southern Cameroon.

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