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Tagging System For Western Australian Didgeridoo Log Cutting

Posted: Saturday, May 8, 2010 in Info & Education by Posted by

Have you ever seen a didgeridoo with a green tag fitted to the bell?

green tags on didgeridoos

Let us explain what this is about…

The Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) of Western Australia introduced a physical tagging system for didgeridoos collected in Western Australia.

“In recent years there has been an increase in popularity of Aboriginal art and artifacts, including didgeridoos, especially by tourists,” CALM Principal Botanist Dr Ken Atkins said.

“This demand has led to the illegal cutting of mallees (a type of eucalypt) in remnant vegetation in areas such as nature reserves in the South West and Wheatbelt resulting in the degradation of these remaining bush areas.”

“Unfortunately for these reserves and other areas of remnant bush land, many of the people seeking stems for didgeridoos are unskilled in determining suitable stems, and often extensive areas are felled to obtain a few suitable stems.”

To combat this problem and protect the reserves, CALM has worked with licensed didgeridoo cutters to develop a system to help reduce the sale of stems taken unlawfully and curb the illegal harvest. A new tagging and certification system has been introduced as part of this strategy.

This tag must be attached to all Western Australian eucalypt stems by the cutter when harvesting. The tag remains attached to the stem during the didgeridoo making process, right through to point of sale.

Dr Atkins said didgeridoo royalty tags would only be provided to people who held the appropriate license issued by CALM.

“CALM has also produced a certification card which accompanies each tag stating that the didgeridoo was made of native Western Australia timbers and has been harvested by a licensed cutter,” he said.

“The tag and certification card will let people know that the didgeridoo they are buying has been cut legally and that the native vegetation hasn’t been degraded.”

“Selling or possessing stems harvested in WA without such a tag attached will be an offence under the Wildlife Conservation Act.”

CALM has now allocated an area in the Goldfield region for licensed cutters to cut eucalypts for didgeridoos.

With all this said, the didgeridoo was not traditionally used by people in south west Western Australia. Its popularity now is for collection for tourism sale. A tag on a Western Australian cut didgeridoo does not necessarily mean that the maker has any instrument making experience! It is not a tag of instrument quality, it is simply a tag of the legal cutting of the timber. Be very wary when looking at Western Australian Mallee didgeridoos, making sure you are aware of the collector, maker and instrument quality.

For further information on didgeridoo harvesting in Western Australia, or to report suspected illegal operators, people can contact their nearest CALM office, or the Duty Wildlife Officer at CALM in Como on 08 9334 0224.

Media contact: Dr Ken Atkins 08 9334 0425