In order to save its remaining forests, Thailand must list rosewood under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) this year, according to a new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). Illegal logging and smuggling of rosewood is being driven by increasing demand in China for rosewood, which is used to produce high-end luxury furniture known as “Hongmu.”
“Despite a nationwide logging ban and protected area networks, Thailand’s remaining forests, particularly the country’s northern and eastern forests, are increasingly threatened by pervasive illegal logging. The major driver of this crime is the rosewood trade—a multi-billion dollar international market underwritten by Chinese demand,” the EIA report reads, noting that loggers are targeting two species, Thailand rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) and Burmese rosewood (Dalbergia bariensis). Both of the species are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
The trade is growing: from 2009 to 2011, the number of rosewood logs seized by Thailand’s Department of National Parks nearly quadrupled.
“Thailand urgently needs to demonstrate its intent to further protect rosewood and CITES presents the best and most immediate mechanism to do so,” the report reads, recommending that the Thai government unilaterally list its rosewood species under CITES Appendix III with a zero quota. In addition it should work with regional government to establish rosewood under Appendix II (controlled trade allowed with quotas) for the next CITES meeting in 2013.
Illegal logging for rosewood have also devastated forests in Madagascar following a government coup in 2009. During the crisis, parks were plundered for the lucrative timber to be sold to foreign traders.
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