Time for ASEAN to act to end illegal, violent rosewood trade

EIA forest campaigners are in Brunei this week (May 5-8) to seek better protection for endangered Siamese rosewood at the 11th ASEAN Experts Group on CITES (CITES AEG) and 10th meeting of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN).

A new EIA briefing outlining the key issues, Addressing ASEAN’s Regional Rosewood Crisis: An Urgent Call to Action, has been produced in English, Burmese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese for the meetings.

The briefing makes policy recommendations on how Association of South-East Asean Nations (ASEAN) member states can maximise the protection afforded to Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) from illegal logging and international trade by removing a loophole in the CITES Appendix II listing – Annotation 5 – which exempts semi–finished and finished products from CITES protection.

The briefing also urges ASEAN member states to propose CITES Appendix II listing for two further species of rosewoods – currently under extreme and growing pressure from Chinese demand for Hongmu furniture – as replacements for Siamese rosewood, namely Burmese rosewood (Dalbergia oliveri/bariensis) and Burmese padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus).

As a recognised global authority on illegal timber trade, EIA has been invited to present the briefing to ASEAN member states at the CITES AEG and ASEAN-WEN meetings in Brunei, where it is expected regional consensus will be reached to put an end to the illegal, unsustainable and violent trade in these high-value species and formal proposals to CITES can be progressed prior to the CITES CoP17 in 2016 and the CITES Plants Committee in September 2015.

With no laws prohibiting illegal timber imports in China – the world’s biggest consumer of illegal wood – CITES presents the only way to engender respect for sovereign forestry and trade laws of ASEAN member states. The time to act is now.