Music to your ears: CITES CoP18 moves towards strengthened regulations for tropical trees, as well as cautious exemptions for rosewood musical instruments

Updated on 28 October 2022

Geneva, 29 August 2019 - Tropical timber, particularly from rosewood trees, is one of the most valued wildlife commodities. The 18th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18), also known as the World Wildlife Conference, discussed a wide array of decisions and proposals to improve CITES regulations for these precious trees.

The world’s wildlife trade regulator adopted stronger measures to tackle illegal trafficking of rosewoods in West and Central Africa and Madagascar. In terms of supporting sustainable use of rosewoods at a global level, CITES Parties agreed on a way forward to obtain the best scientific information for formulating non-detriment findings (NDFs), to build capacity for timber identification, and to develop amendments to the Appendices for tropical-tree listings.

A highly anticipated discussion on rosewood trees centered on the exemption of musical instruments from CITES controls. Since CoP17 in 2016, the CITES Parties and the extended family have considered the appropriateness of exempting rosewood musical instruments and other finished items from CITES controls.

Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: “During three years of thoughtful discussions, CITES Parties needed to analyse the different kinds of commercial trade that had significant impact on the sustainability of the rosewood species. In classic CITES style, Parties demonstrated once again their shared spirit to find solutions for the most effective implementation of the Convention’s regulations, and as a result they have agreed to exempt rosewood musical instruments.”

CITES Parties today also welcomed to Appendix II all cedars (genus Cedrela) from the new world, as well as a species of African rosewood (Pterocarpus tinctorius). They also agreed on additional precisions to ensure the Convention’s controls focus on the main commodities in international trade.