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:
M. Roberts, Press
In The Hague: 06-5213 6798
WORLD FORUM CONVENTION CENTRE
10, Churchillplein NL-2508 THE HAGUE