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Research Report

The role of CITES in the governance of transnational timber trade

Rosalind Reeve
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 71
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    This study aims to identify areas of potential research in which CIFOR could engage in relation to the governance of trade in tree species regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and the exclusion of illegal timber from supply chains, which could contribute to positive change. Its ultimate aim is to strengthen the governance of transnational timber trade, and contribute to the survival of tree species traded illegally and unsustainably. The study identifies all tree species covered by CITES, but its primary focus is those that are exploited for trade in...

  2. (pp. 2-2)

    In 1975, when CITES came into force, just 18 tree species were listed under the Convention and therefore subject to international trade controls. Interest in including timber species in the CITES Appendices began to increase at the beginning of the 1990s and by March 2013, when the last CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP16) was held in Bangkok, over 350 tree species had been listed, around 200 of which are used and traded for timber (CITES 2013a). Many of these, however, particularly ebonies and rosewoods, were listed in Appendix III, a unilateral listing for which trade controls are relatively minimal...

  3. (pp. 3-8)

    The 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Convention since it was concluded at a conference in Washington DC, is one of the oldest multilateral environmental agreements with 180 country Parties and the European Union, which recently acceded to the Convention as a Party in its own right. Seen as the flagship wildlife agreement, its aim is to ensure that international trade in species of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

    Although CITES is legally binding, each Party must adopt legislation to implement the treaty...

  4. (pp. 9-14)

    CITES is unique among biodiversity-related conventions in having a well-developed system to incentivize compliance and enforcement.14 It is a convention with “teeth”, which have evolved over 40 years and include both “carrots” and “sticks”, i.e. measures to encourage and increase capacity for compliance and enforcement but also to sanction Parties that fail to take recommended action to resolve problems.15

    Capacity-building support for the management of listed timber species is provided under the programme jointly run by the ITTO and the CITES Secretariat and funded mainly by the EU, as well as the United States and private sector. In 2007, cooperation...

  5. (pp. 15-26)

    Parties have the right under Article XIV to adopt stricter domestic measures than provided for in the Convention. Thus Parties can restrict or completely prohibit trade in listed and non-listed species.31 Many consumer and producer countries have made use of this provision to restrict imports and exports with a view to achieving conservation and animal welfare objectives. For example, the EU, Japan and the United States require import permits for trade in some or all Appendix II species, while Australia requires evidence of a management plan in exporting countries before it permits imports (this led, for example, to its refusal...

  6. (pp. 27-31)

    Recognizing that consumer and processing countries other than those in the EU play a highly significant role in the supply chains of CITES-listed timber species, Saunders and Reeve (2014) recommend that the EU should expand its efforts under the FLEGT action plan to engage these countries in combatting illegal logging and associated trade. The paper cites, for example, the need for more systematic efforts to engage with China and India, whose tropical timber imports and processing industries are growing rapidly, and leverage their support for implementing policies similar to the EU on illegal timber trade.

    According to the ITTO’s 2012...

  7. (pp. 32-35)

    Regional economic integration and the dissolution of national borders has profound implications for CITES given that trade controls rest on a permitting system implemented by national management authorities, dependent for its enforcement on effective controls at national borders. The European Union has been dealing with the impacts of economic integration on CITES implementation and enforcement for over 30 years, and is still addressing challenges with illegal trade and enforcement caused by a common market with no internal border controls. Its experiences provide many lessons for other regions currently moving towards greater integration, notably in Asia.

    The move towards a boundary-free...

  8. (pp. 36-44)

    Saunders and Reeve (2014) present three case studies of CITES-listed timber species: bigleaf mahogany from Latin America, ramin from South East Asia and afrormosia from West and Central Africa. The cases were selected to illustrate the approaches taken by CITES to improve regulation of timber trade in the different regions and implementation of the Convention. These three species were also chosen as priorities to address under the first phase of the ITTO-CITES programme. Summary findings and conclusions are presented here, along with additional and updated information on actions taken under the EU SRG and by the Standing Committee in relation...

  9. (pp. 45-48)

    CITES is an increasingly important tool in the governance of transnational timber trade, as well as in-country management of listed species. Its role in the past has been limited by the relatively small number of species listed, but that is changing as more and more timber-producing species are added to the CITES Appendices and the ITTO–CITES capacity-building programme expands its reach. Well over a decade ago, NGOs recognized the Convention’s potential to curb trade in high-profile species, and catalyzed action on bigleaf mahogany and ramin. These cases indicate that, in the context of concerted efforts by national and international...

  10. (pp. 49-53)

    This scoping study has revealed many issues and areas that could be researched further in a deeper exploration and analysis of the governance of trade in timber-producing species regulated by CITES. This section does not attempt to provide a comprehensive list of all possible research topics. Rather it identifies priority areas warranting further research and suggests how each could be approached. The topics have been chosen on the basis that further research and analysis could contribute towards catalyzing positive change to strengthen the governance of transnational timber trade, and ultimately towards the survival of tree species traded illegally and unsustainably....