As the CITES Tree Species Programme draws to a close, there is hope for a better future for some of the world’s threatened tree species and a recognition that local communities play a critical role in the future conservation of trees.
The world needs more trees (cf. the Trillion Tree Initiative) and ideally these trees would be CITES-listed, as some of the most threatened species. In many countries across the world, initiatives are underway to incentivize communities and private land holders to plant more trees, to ensure carbon capture, in the fight against climate change… and to restore ecosystems for the benefit of longer-term biodiversity conservation.
A community of practice comprising researchers, scientific institutions, CITES Authorities and forest management agencies is emerging as a result of the five-year project. Many representatives emphasized that they had a better understanding of each other’s role and that there was better communication between the practitioners through the CITES Tree Species Programme (CTSP) – and that even stronger engagement of the local communities would be critical for the conservation of the world’s trees and forests.
The concrete and tangible results of the CITES Tree Species Programme were reviewed by project coordinators from the projects, and international experts gathered in Malaysia last week: Twenty projects, 23 countries, 3 regions, over 80 technical reports and guidelines, including ten non-detriment finding (NDF) reports, over 20 short videos, one new tree-species identification app and hundreds of people trained.
The meeting was co-hosted by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the CITES Secretariat, in the context of the CTSP, funded by the European Union.
In seven countries, and as many projects in Central and South America, there have been some significant and unexpected results:
- For instance, in Guatemala, the objective was to carry out a molecular analysis of the 6 known species of Dalbergia and check taxonomic aspects related to the genus. The project discovered that 10 species of Dalbergia occur in the country and some of these species are completely new species, not characterized before.
Also, the four projects in Asia yielded some significant outcomes, for instance:
- In Viet Nam, the country-wide NDF on the two species of Dalbergia led the government to agree to stop all harvesting of Dalbergia for the next five years to allow the species to recover while management plans are being finalized and implemented.
- Cambodia saw a surprisingly positive impact of the “Guidelines on Private Forest Registration in Cambodia” and the guidelines and incentives for the establishment of small-scale private forest plantations, as it resulted in approximately 360 ha of private forest plantations, including a large number of cochinchinensis plantations, registered with the Forestry Administration. It is expected that more private forest plantations will be registered in the future.
The nine projects in Africa were also successfully completed. All countries have prepared the ground for the development of full non-detriment finding reports with some of the NDFs already completed. For instance:
- In Cameroon, the NDF for Prunus africana (African cherry) has been completed in two regions, allowing the country to establish an export quota and to resume exports to Europe of the species. New sustainable management measures have been established to ensure the maintenance of the species throughout the ecosystem.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, one the largest and most biodiverse countries in Africa, a new electronic system, linking concessions and export quota to the management of the CITES permitting system has considerably improved the traceability of the specimens in trade.
- Some countries had produced their first ever NDF for tree species thanks to the CTSP.
In fact, each and every project has a story to tell; these stories have been captured in short videos that can be watched online on the CTSP website.
A selection of the 80 technical reports will be translated and published for wider distribution and knowledge-sharing.
The meeting also discussed the perspectives going forward. Some clear conclusions emerged:
- The CTSP has generated a momentum that should be maintained in the short term by continuing to exchange experiences and knowledge.
- There is a need for scaling up some of the projects that have only been implemented at the local level, for a part of the population of the species.
- More work on traceability systems is needed – perhaps at a sub-regional level where species and populations are shared.
- The establishment of more nurseries and plantations with the engagement of the local communities would be a win-win-win solution for climate, biodiversity and rural sustainable development.
All participants of the meeting in Malaysia were invited to inspect FRIM’s Arboreta, which contains specimens of every one Malaysia’s 2700 species of trees. The Taman Botani Kepong | FRIM - Forest Research Institute Malaysia
More information on www.CITES-tsp.org