Cycles of Destruction

A briefing prepared for the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The expanding trade in hongmu (rare and valuable “red wood” used primarily for antique-style furniture in China) has driven successive boom and bust cycles all over the world, marked by unsustainable harvest, multiple legal violations (theft, smuggling, corruption) and violence in source countries.

As CoP17 begins, only eight hongmu species are protected by the Convention. Parties to CITES need to recognise the severity of the threat to the species’ survival and also develop and support proposals to protect any hongmu, lookalike or replacement species.