(BANGKOK, THAILAND) – World leaders deliberating at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species today voted – in a historic move – to list rare rosewoods under the Treaty to ensure that illegal logging and international timber trade do not decimate the species, including: Thai rosewood, Black rosewood, Honduras rosewood, and Malagasy rosewood.
“Never before have so many positive proposals to list tree species been adopted by CITES nations,” noted Juan Carlos Cantú, director of programs of Defenders of Wildlife Mexico and chair of the Tree Working Group of the Species Survival Network. “There is a turning tide within the Treaty; now, timber producing countries view CITES regulation as a means to stop illegal harvesting and illegal trade.”
Wood from these species, with its striking dark color, is highly prized in China for the making of traditional “red wood” furniture. Once considered a luxury item only for the wealthy, such furniture is now in high demand by China’s growing middle class. In 2011 alone, demand resulted in up to a fourfold increase in prices for “redwood” furniture made from rosewood.
This demand is fueling an international conservation crisis throughout the tropics characterized by illegal trade and unsustainable forestry practices. “Wherever rosewood grows, forestry authorities are grappling with the effects of illegal harvesting and trade—valuable resources are plundered, and there is a troubling presence of foreign criminal elements. They have been overwhelmed and they urgently need international help to deal with this problem,” stated Cantú.
Rosewood species whose trade is now regulated include endangered species from Central America, Southeast Asia and Africa. SSN congratulates Belize, Madagascar, Thailand, and Vietnam for taking strong actions to address unsustainable and illegal trade in these highly valued species.
“These countries have banned the harvest of their rosewood species but without the protection of CITES to regulate international trade, the unsustainable illegal harvest will bring these species to the brink of extinction in 10-20 years. CITES is now their only chance to survive since no shipment may be imported by any country without a CITES export permit,” Cantú concluded.