BANGKOK – Thai rosewood has been given protection under international law, one of many decisions made at the recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), held March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thai Rosewood Given CITES Endangered Species ProtectionAlso known as Siamese rosewood or Siam rosewood, it is among the more than 200 species of rosewood and ebony listed on CITES Appendix II. Although Thailand has had a logging ban on this and other precious wood species since 1989, illogging and trade has put a dent in the supply. A CITES Appendix II listing means that trade is controlled and export permit certificates must be issued before the timber can be removed to another country. The permit certifies that the exported timber was legally obtained from the forest.

According to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), more than 600 containers of Siamese rosewood have been seized by customs officials in Thailand and “178,609 pieces of wood were confiscated in over 3,000 illegal logging cases during the past six years.” A UK-based organization, EIA investigates and campaigns against environmental crimes, including illegal logging, illegal wildlife trade and hazardous waste.

“This is a significant step forward for this desperately threatened species,” Faith Doherty, head of EIA’s Forests Campaign, said in a statement. “With this listing, the consumer markets will need to work with Thailand and the range states of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos to ensure Siam rosewood is actually protected, especially as there is a logging ban in Thailand.

Kate Horner, director of Forest Campaigns at EIA-US said in a statement, “The insatiable international demand for high value, precious woods has already depleted much of the world’s population of rosewood and ebony and the remaining stocks are under extreme threat due to booming prices in the global marketplace. We hope for swift and effective implementation, with the full support of all parties to CITES, and especially from major transit and consuming countries.”

The proposals to control logging and trade of rosewood and ebony from Asia, Central America and Madagascar were brought before CITES by Thailand, Madagascar, Belize and Vietnam. A joint program between CITES and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) will help support the countries’ efforts in implementation.

In all, 55 proposals were accepted at this year’s CITES conference. The 17th CITES conference will be held in 2016 in South Africa.

Watch this video of Al Jazeera interviewing EIA's Faith Doherty on rosewood at CITES CoP16 - March 7, 2013

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