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EIA releases two new reports on precious woods for CITES SC66

Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are gathered this week in Geneva for the 66th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee. On the agenda are critical protections for precious timbers from Madagascar, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and West Africa. EIA has prepared two briefings highlighting the need for CITES member states to maintain strong export controls on rosewood and ebony from Madagascar, and the need for member states to consider additional protections for precious woods species from tropical areas around the world.

The illegal harvest, trade, and export of ebonies (Diospyros spp.), palisanders and rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.) continue to devastate the unique ecosystems of Madagascar and the livelihoods of forest-dependent peoples. Despite listing of the island’s populations of these species on CITES Appendix II in March 2013, Madagascar has made insufficient progress on key elements of the Action Plan it agreed to under this listing.

Since 2009, Asian demand has boomed for luxury furniture made with rare, high-value, and deeply hued rosewoods, mahoganies, and ebonies. Principally targeting 33 species within the Pterocarpus, Diospyros, Dalbergia, Millettia, and Cassia genera, sales in China's Hongmu sector exceeded $25 billion in 2014. The Hongmu sector is a significant threat to this group of timber species and constitutes a pressing challenge for CITES and its Parties.

The sector is driving systematic illegal and unsustainable extraction at unprecedented rates and scales. Across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the nature of the industry is the same - unsustainable extraction leads to domestic protection which is then undermined by smuggling aided by corrupt officials; finally, better-governed range states seek CITES protections.

Member states at the CITES Standing Committee need to support strong measures for the protection of precious woods in order to prevent the further destruction of vital forest ecosystems and the eventual extinction of key tree species.

Download The Hongmu Challenge: An EIA briefing for the 66th CITES Standing Committee here.

Download Time for Action: an EIA Briefing for the 66th CITES Standing Committee here.

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