First name Last Name Adam Roberts

For Immediate Release:

7 Jun 2007

CITES Ablaze Over Timber

THE HAGUE—Despite proclaiming that endangered and threatened tree species would be a high priority at CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), delegates to this crucial conference failed to place Spanish Cedar on Appendix II of the Convention, which would have appropriately increased trade controls for international commerce in the species.

This hardwood found in Latin America and the Caribbean is the subject of extensive international trade. Peru alone exports about 45,000 cubic metres a year and Mexico tops the list as the biggest importer. Cedar is used primarily for cabinetry and flooring.

“The Parties have failed to fulfill the promise of this CITES meeting. They could have played a uniquely important role in ensuring the legality and sustainability of the global timber trade,” said Kris Genovese, Associate International Counsel, Defenders of Wildlife and Chair of the Timber Working Group of the Species Survival Network. “Instead, they’ve turned a blind eye to the unimaginable destruction spread across the rich forests of the western hemisphere.”

Parties ignored the science justifying the proposal and allowed the debate to become highly politicised. The debate over cedar also revealed a deep misunderstanding over the purpose of CITES. An Appendix II listing (which only regulates trade through the issuance of export permits) should be considered a tool to promote sustainable forest management and trade. In the case of Cedar not only would it ensure commercial stocks for future trade but, by addressing illegal logging, the listing could have helped to protect the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples from the forests of the Mosquitia to the Amazon.

Ms Genovese commented, “The World Bank estimates that developing nations are losing an estimated $15 billion a year through illegal logging. Forests are like a long-term investment that can provide sustainable dividends. Only CITES can provide the international trade control mechanisms to protect that investment – but right now it’s like a bunch of bank robbers walking out with bags of cash.”

“Although we would welcome a proposal to list Cedrela in 2010, as suggested by Mexico, the failure to act today will allow unscrupulous profiteers a 3 year window to continue their destructive activities. We urge the range States to include this species on Appendix III immediately,” said Will Travers, President of the Species Survival Network, a coalition of more than 80 organisations worldwide working on CITES issues.

Claims by some range States that they had not been fully consulted were greatly exaggerated since the roots of this issue go back to 1998 and for the last 2 years the development of this proposal has been endorsed by the CITES Plants Committee.

In the wake of the withdrawal of Spanish Cedar, two further timber proposals (Honduran and Black Rosewood) were also withdrawn making it a dark day for timber conservation.

For more information contact:

Adam M. Roberts, Press Officer,
In The Hague: 06-5213 6798
Globally: 1-202-445-3572

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