The Crelicam project has established a solid business in Cameroon exporting legal and socially responsible ebony, creating a new standard in an industry that has prioritized low prices over compliance with the local laws, protection of the environment and quality of life of its employees.
Our priority, ensuring the future of ebony, demands total respect for the laws that designate areas for extracting the ebony and maximum quotas we have to comply with, based on forest regeneration.
Our work with ebony is focused on ensuring the future of the species. This tree, which was abundant in African and Asian tropical forests, has suffered the consequences of illegal logging in many countries.
In Cameroon, one of the few countries where there is a healthy population of ebony, we have established legality and sustainability guarantees that have set a new standard in the world’s ebony market.
Sustainability starts with full respect for the law.
In Cameroon, there is no private forestry, as all forests are communal. The government determines the areas and quotas of extraction, which are based on the regenerative capacity of forests.
Crelicam is the largest exporter of ebony from Cameroon, with a quota of 1.200 tonnes in 2016. We strictly comply with the rules and reject illegal forest activities. We denounce the existence of illegal logging, which have contributed to diminishing the population of ebony in the African continent and are threatening the species continuity.
At the same time, we flatly refuse to participate in bribery and any other form of corruption. We are committed to our policy of zero tolerance for corruption, despite the difficulties this entails in a country where, in many cases, corruption is institutionalized.
Crelicam is audited annually by KPMG. In addition, we train our employees on the stigma of corruption and how to avoid it.
At Crelicam, our first objective is to ensure the future of ebony. This has led us to establish legality and sustainability guarantees in Cameroon.
In addition to respecting the forests growth and regeneration cycles, strictly adhering to our logging quotas and respecting the places designated for extraction, we have launched several sustainability initiatives, resource consumption reduction and replanting.
Our determination to increase wood yield both in the forest and in the factory contributes directly to the environment. We are consuming fewer raw materials to produce more output, and at the same time, contributing to the regeneration of the resources used.
Increasing wood yield, reducing waste
In the forest
Jet black ebony, is the accepted standard in the music industry. However, only a fraction of the ebony that is found in nature is completely black. On average, only 1 in 10 ebony trees is completely black, while the other 9 can be dark brown instead of black, or sometimes have yellow streaks or spots.
However, there is no way of knowing what the colour of the tree is before cutting it..This is why, for many years, trees that are not completely black have been cut down only to be abandoned in the forest. The coloured wood has been traditionally rejected by the industry, and its price is too low to cover the costs of transporting the logs.
At Crelicam, no tree will ever be abandoned on the forest ground.
Both Madinter and Taylor Guitars work to raise awareness among our customers about the nature of ebony, a truth that the industry has been avoiding for a long time. We are now selling these pieces of ebony, which have a different look, but the same quality, as a new product, with its own place in the market.
In the factory
We have invested in new facilities, new equipment and training for our employees to get higher yield on each log that arrives in Crelicam.
Our new machines have improved wood yield, which has allowed us to obtain more output without increasing our resource consumption, reducing waste at the same time.
We are also improving our waste management. The woods that cannot be used for musical instruments are returned to the community to be used as firewood to power their homes. We will be introducing an energy system in the factory powered by our wood waste in the near future.
Zero tolerance for corruption
At Madinter we maintain a strict policy of legality in all our activities, both in Cameroon and in all other countries where we work. Implementing this policy in Cameroon has been a significant innovation, as bribery and other illegal practices are common in the country, to the point of being institutionalized as part of the bureaucracy and the daily life of Cameroonians.
However, we have shown that by standing firm, it is possible to conduct a business in the country without participating at all in corruption. Nowadays, we are training our employees on how to avoid corruption in different situations, and we are audited annually by KPMG.
GPS traceability system
We want transfer our commitment towards the environment all along the supply chain to the final customer. For Madinter, it is essential to provide guarantees to our customers, manufacturers of musical instruments, on the sustainability of the product that we supply.
However, traditional methods of forest certification are not possible in Cameroon due to the structure of forest ownership, directly managed by the central government. Because of this, we have implemented an alternative traceability system through the use of GPS.
We have trained Crelicam employees in using this technology, which has enabled us to implement a comprehensive tracking system. This system allows us to pinpoint the exact location of each piece of wood that we sell all the way back to its origin in the forest, in a place that has been selected in a legal and controlled way.
By offering information to our customers, we are encouraging the music industry to get more involved in this issue and demand similar sustainability protocols on all their purchases.