Friday, 5 September 2014

How do you get a cedar box from Haida Gwaii to Oxford?

Shipping a wooden box from Haida Gwaii to England requires more paperwork than you would expect!—and it is remarkably difficult, but we managed in the end.

In Oxford, Laura contacted UK customs to find the right forms to import the box. The first hurdle was that the box is made of Western red cedar, thuja plicata, which is a controlled import into the UK and normally requires a phytosanitary certificate: UK Forestry is worried about insect infestations and fungal infections which might spread through the import of wood and trees from outside the country.

Happily, Forestry UK was pleased to advise us that items manufactured of wood were exempt from these restrictions if they fell into certain Customs categories, and we decided that category 4421, which includes ‘coffins and other manufactured items,’ would work for the box.

Then Gwaai and Jaalen had to crate the box to ensure its safety during the journey. You have all seen what baggage handlers do to your luggage  at airports, and commercial cargo is also moved by forklift, which can mean a lot of bumps and sudden jarring. Airplanes are very dry, and the box had been steamed recently, so a tightly sealed crate would help the box to maintain some moisture and not dry out too fast, which might cause splitting.

The box was too large to fit through the Air Canada security scanner on Haida Gwaii, but with the help of Pacific Coastal Airlines we found a way to ship securely. The crate arrived safely at Heathrow and Laura and PRM technician Jon Eccles went to pick it up. After only 5 hours waiting for Customs to approve the paperwork, we were away!

we're outta here!

There was one last step in the process: everything coming into the Pitt Rivers Museum is frozen for several days at -30 degrees Celsius to kill all insects and insect eggs and larvae that might be lurking in things. Even the Museum’s gift shop stock is frozen. So on arrival at the Museum, the crate was carefully opened and then the new box had a little Arctic vacation in a walk-in freezer for four days.

safely arrived at PRM

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