Congo Basin Institute and Tom Smith in National Geographic: Cameroon’s embattled ebony trees get a lifeline—from guitar maker

The guitar industry has a spotty track record for sustainable wood sourcing. But one manufacturer is trying to help stave off deforestation.

Bob Taylor met Tom Smith, director of UCLA’s Congo Basin Institute, who had worked in Cameroon for decades and knew as much about its forest ecology as Taylor knew about guitars. They found themselves circling a shared quandary: The urgent need to regrow tropical hardwoods in the Congo Basin was hampered because scientists knew more about how to cut the trees down than how to grow them back.

Smith and Taylor decided that, especially with the sex appeal conferred by its use in guitars, ebony could work well as a case study in developing new methods to restore the forest’s hardwoods.

Story originally published online here