CITES extends trade controls to 111 precious hardwood species from Madagascar and Panama

Updated on 12 January 2021

For use of the media only;
not an official document.

Geneva, 28 September 2011 – The Governments of Madagascar and Panama have requested the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to list 111 hardwood species in CITES Appendix III, in an effort to curb the increase in illegal timber trade by enabling verification of legal origin under CITES standards.

The listing of ebony wood and rosewood species in CITES Appendix III will help facilitate detection of fraud and make critical trade information available to exporting and importing countries. CITES Appendix III regulations mean that all cross-border shipments now have to be authorized by the issuance of a document certifying the origin of the products covered by the listing.

Madagascar requested the inclusion in CITES of five species of rosewood (genus Dalbergia) and 104 species of ebony wood (genus Diospyros) after illegal trade increased 25% in 2009 and approximately 25,000 m3 of rosewood were exported. Rosewood is sought for its rich reddish-brown colour and hard wood, extensively used for high-end furniture, housing and musical instruments. In future, all international trade in logs, sawn wood and veneer sheets of the listed species will need to be accompanied by CITES documentation confirming the country of origin.

Dalbergia retusa and its products

Panama has also requested the help of the other 174 CITES member States to control the trade in their national populations of Dalbergia darienensis and Dalbergia retusa, known as black rosewood or cocobolo. Dalbergia retusa occurs from Mexico to Panama, mainly in dry tropical forest. Only the heartwood of Dalbergia timber species yields quality timber. Cocobolo is exceptionally good for marine use. Because it is hard, beautiful, and very stable, it is also used for gun grips, butts of billiard cues and chess pieces. Kitchen knives with cocobolo handles can be immersed in water for short periods without distortion of the grips and do not require chemical treatment. This precious wood has also been used for jewellery boxes, inlay and veneer, the handles of high quality hair brushes, and the manufacture of bowling balls. Cocobolo is resonant when struck, making it a preferred material for marimbas, clarinets and xylophones.

In welcoming the new listings, which will enter into force on 22 December 2011, CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said: “CITES will support Madagascar’s and Panama’s efforts to control their timber trade and ensure that such trade remains legal and traceable. Regulating trade in these high-value timber species under CITES will help ensure that the benefits of trade flow to local people and it will also serve the global community by helping conserve these species, which will be to the benefit of entire ecosystems." Mr Scanlon added that: "These decisions reflect the increasing value that States attach to CITES in managing their forest assets. They are particularly welcome in this UN International Year of Forests”.

Background information on timber trade

It is widely recognized that tropical forests are under severe pressure from logging and land conversion. FAO estimates that the world lost over 0.8 % of its tropical forests every year between 1980 and 1990. From 1990 to 2000, the annual loss of forest cover in many tropical countries continued to be significant, in many cases over 1 % per year.

Timber species have relatively recently started to be covered by CITES. However, as loggers scour the remaining tracts of forest and selectively remove high-value timbers, support has grown for better controls, and CITES is increasingly seen as having a valuable role to play. The CITES member States have already agreed to include Latin America’s bigleaf mahogany, Southeast Asia’s ramin and Africa’s afromosia in Appendix II.

Appendix III includes all species which any Party to the Convention identifies as being subject to regulation within its jurisdiction for the purposes of preventing or restricting exploitation, and as needing the cooperation of other Parties in the control of trade.  Inclusion in Appendix III is undertaken at the specific request of the State of origin and does not require consensus or a two-thirds majority vote by the Conference of the Parties.

Note to editors:

For more information, contact Juan Carlos Vasquez at +41-79-552 27 32 (mobile), or [email protected]


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