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Conservationist's plans axed as eco-guitar seized

A forest conservationist struck the wrong chord with customs officers at Dublin Airport when he tried to bring a prestigious eco-friendly guitar home from the US.

Tom Roche arrived back in Ireland yesterday after being presented with a Martin guitar by the chief-executive of the Martin corporation, Chris Martin.

His Offaly-based Just Forests group promotes sustainable wood and encourages manufacturers to use it in wooden musical instruments, such as guitars.

However, Mr Roche left the airport empty handed after the guitar, built from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber, and worth €2,000, was seized by customs who didn't accept the instrument was a donation and insisted that import duty would have to be paid.

The guitar was donated after the Martin company heard about a concert held recently by Just Forests in Tullamore, Co Offaly, and headlined by The Chieftains.

"The Martin group heard about the concert and the link we're making between musical instruments and sustainable wood and they asked if they could help in any way," Mr Roche told the Irish Independent.

Mr Roche travelled to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to accept the guitar from Martin.

The forestry conservation group had hoped that Bono and the Edge of U2 would showcase the Martin D-Dreadnought electo-acoustic guitar as a message of hope for the future of sustainable forests.

The group hoped to raffle the guitar, with the proceeds going into an educational campaign aimed at getting all wooden musical instruments used in Ireland made from tonewoods from responsibly managed forests worldwide.

Irish Independent