Cites meeting: Ebony beats ivory in conservation stakes
THE AMAZON PINK DOLPHIN’S VOICE-15/03/2013
Cites meeting: Ebony beats ivory in conservation stakes
By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent, BBC News, Bangkok
Delegates to the Cites conservation meeting in Thailand have agreed far-reaching restrictions on the trade in critically endangered hardwood trees.
Extra protection was given to several species of rosewood and ebony that have been threatened by illegal logging.
Campaigners welcomed the move, saying it stood in marked contrast to the slow pace of progress in tackling the ivory-poaching crisis.
The criminal trade in timber is said to be worth around $30bn (£20bn) annually.
The Cites meeting in Bangkok agreed to upgrade the restrictions on species of rare rosewood trees from South East Asia and South America as well as species of ebony from Madagascar.
Black market timber
Campaigners were particularly pleased that a variety of rosewood grown in Thailand will now be listed in Appendix 2, meaning both exporters and importers will have to have a valid permit.
Growing demand from China’s middle classes for luxury furniture has fuelled illegal logging in this product, which can fetch up to $50,000 (£33,000) a cubic metre.
Faith Doherty from the Environmental Investigation Agency said it was a big step forward for this species.
“Finally, we have a legal tool to use in China, the main destination and where rosewood prices on the black market are spurring a flood of smuggling and associated violence,” she said.
Many ebony products from Madagascar also end up in China. Despite domestic legislation banning exports, illegal logging has continued unabated.
The restrictions also mean that an exporting country now has an obligation to determine that the number of trees being cut down is not detrimental to the survival of the species.
Where Cites really packs a punch is in its ability to impose trade sanctions on any country that over-exports a restricted species. These sanctions would be across the whole range of species regulated by Cites and could prove extremely expensive to offending countries.
The move into dealing with timber species was welcomed by Will Travers from the Born Free Foundation.
“I think it is exciting to see that Cites is being brave enough in the face of very persuasive commercial operations to address tree species,” he told BBC News.
“Everybody now recognises that there is a serious crisis out there – the demand side of the equation has to be addressed and the only way of doing that is to put these species on Appendix 2.”
Africa: Cites Conference Takes Decisive Action to Halt Decline of Tropical Timber, Sharks, Manta Rays and a Wide Range of Other Plants and Animals
Bangkok — The triennial World’s Wildlife Conference closed today with robust measures adopted to protect precious timber and marine species from overexploitation.
170 governments have turned to CITES to ensure the legal, sustainable and traceable trade in their precious timber and forest products, with the Conference unanimously bringing hundreds of new timber species under CITES controls, along with a number of tortoises and turtles and a wide range of other plant and animal species. Five shark species and manta rays were also brought under CITES controls following a vote.
The members States declared the 3rd of March as the World Wildlife Day and accepted South Africa’s invitation to host the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in 2016.
The CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon, said: “This is a big day for CITES and for the world’s wildlife.It takes enormous effort to negotiate treaties and then make them work.The international community has today decided to make best use of this pragmatic and effective agreement to help it along the path to sustainability in our oceans and forests. CITES Parties have heeded the call from Rio+20 and recognized the important role of CITES as an international agreement that stands at the intersection between trade, the environment and development.”
Unprecedented levels of international cooperation to combat serious wildlife crime have seen past differences set aside to stop the poaching of elephants and the rhinoceroses for their ivory and horn. These international commitments will now be translated into national action, with the CITES Standing Committee reviewing progress between now and the next meeting in 2016.
The Asian and African Development Banks, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme have all attended this meeting in recognition of the need to scale up investment in the implementation of CITES. The CITES member States have decided to explore the possibility of making the GEF a financial instrument for the Convention.
The first global meeting of wildlife enforcement networks took place alongside the main meeting to scale up regional enforcement capacity and coordination to respond to the serious threat posed to wildlife by criminal networks. Several events of the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) brought together Government Ministers, the world’s Wildlife Enforcement Networks, the Asian Development Bank, chief justices, attorney generals, senior police and Customs, and enforcement officers to discuss transboundary wildlife crime.
CITES meeting aims to end illegal wildlife trade
Member states to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are showing willingness to place bans and restrictions on the trade of several species, despite resistance from some Asian nations.
Putting a stop to the multi-million dollar international trade in illegal wildlife is the center of debate as over 170 countries meet in Bangkok.
The 16th conference of nations linked to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) comes against the backdrop of a decimation of African elephant herds, rhinos, marine life and several timber species. The CITES debates, due to run until March 14, are being seen as one of the most crucial in the 40-year history of the convention.
In a breakthrough Monday, March 11, proposals to protect several shark species were passed. CITES members placed porbeagles, three species of hammerhead sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks on the restricted trade list, while freshwater sawfish was placed on the banned trade list.
Sharks gain protection
Marine life, especially sharks, turtles and tortoises, are under threat, with millions of sharks killed each year – up to 100 million, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – for their fins.
Rebecca Regnery, deputy director of wildlife with Humane Society International says Monday’s decision “is the only way to truly give some of the most heavily traded species a respite from the commercial onslaught.”
Humane Society International Australia Director Alexia Wellbelove says that now is the time to act lest the species become extinct. “We can stop those populations from dropping too much further, controlling it before it’s too late.”
Armed international gangs
CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon told DW the involvement of organized crime in the ivory trade, for example, has led to the rise of armed militias and rebel forces in Africa and that national park rangers were no match for the heavily armed gangs.
“They are not in a position to be able to confront these individuals. The gangs are vicious; they will kill people as fast as they will kill animals. So what do you do in that situation? How do we up the ante here to provide the support for individuals, but also for our wildlife?” Scanlon said.
For the African elephant, the spike in the ivory trade, largely in Asian markets, especially China, has meant that in the past two years alone, an average of 68 African elephants have been killed each day.
According to CITES, around 25,000 African elephants were slaughtered in 2011 alone. “We’re still analyzing the figures for 2012, but it looks like they’re possibly worse,” Scanlon said. “So we’re dealing with a significant escalation in [poaching] and we need to take significant measures to stop it.”
Measures included the formation of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime in 2010. The group includes the CITES Secretariat, the international police organization, INTERPOL, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization and the World Bank.
While the UNODC has already said it is looking into strengthening the monitoring of illegal trade between Myanmar and Thailand, governments need to have the collective will to take on wildlife crime, Scanlon commented.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in her opening address vowed to reform Thai laws to halt the trade in illegal ivory. Some countries, such as Northern Cameroon and South Africa, have come up with ways to curb poaching, by, for example, deploying military forces to chase them down.
Protecting the polar bear
But efforts to protect the polar bear, now under threat from both climate change and hunting, by banning trade, failed in the first round of voting. The ban had been backed by the US and Russia, but was opposed by Canada, where most of the world’s approximate 20,000 polar bears now live.
Dr. Teresa Telecky, a director for Humane Society International said the outlook for the polar bear was grim. “Polar bear scientists have estimated that we will lose two-thirds of the world’s polar bears by 2050, and by the end of the century there will only be one tiny, small population of polar bears left in Canada. It’s a very serious situation,” she told reporters.
While reductions in polar bear populations are a direct result of climate change, over-killing by Canada’s indigenous population, who are free to hunt the bear, is the key threat, she added.
Kenya’s proposal to fight poaching of elephants and rhinos has won backing at the just concluded international meeting on wildlife trade in Thailand.
The standing committee of the 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP) by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has agreed that ‘Action Plan’ described in Kenya’s proposal be implemented, and reviewed, in year 2014.
The committee also resolved that if those plans are not completed as envisaged, sanctions against the offending country, or countries, be taken from July 2014.
The countries mentioned in this resolution include the supply states, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, plus the consumer states of China and Thailand. It also includes ivory ‘transit’ countries namely Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Secretary General of Cites, John Scanlon, was quoted saying that the deadline was ‘real’.
“The eight states are prepared to do more and be measured against that,” he said. “There is also recognition that a failure to take action…the standing committee may consider compliance measures. And, the ultimate sanction under our convention is a trade suspension.”
These had submitted a raft of proposals on her own or jointly with other state parties.
Kenya had earlier withdrawn her proposal that sought to amend provisions covering trade in elephant and elephant ivory.
The provision also sought a decision to deny elephant range states from presenting a proposal to trade in ivory from its elephant population until a nine-year ivory trade suspension (moratorium) agreed to at the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2007 at the Hague (Netherlands) ends in 2017. Kenya’s proposal had been submitted jointly with Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali.
Kenya’s elephant proposal was majorly informed by the knowledge that Tanzania would be submitting to the CoP16 in Thailand, a proposal seeking to be allowed to trade in over 100 tonnes of national stockpile of ivory. Tanzania had her proposal withdrawn since December 26, 2012 in advance of the CoP16.
Consequently, elements of Kenya’s proposal were incorporated into Decisions and Resolutionsadopted for implementation of concrete measures to help reduce demand for ivory and combat elephant poaching. It is now a requirement that all countries implicated enhance law enforcement and put in place sufficient measures to control increased poaching. ‘Consumer’ states are also required to reduce demand in ivory.
State parties also agreed on texts of Decisions directing China and Vietnam as consumer states to reduce demand in Rhino horn. CITES also issued directives on Rhino range States, and in particular South Africa, to enhance controls in trophy hunting and ensure legally acquired rhino horns through trophy hunting do not enter into the illegal markets.
Kenya, first time, successfully lobbied to have sandalwood species listed on Appendix II some of the species populations of Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
A CoP16 decision calling all the species range states and the CITES plant committee to undertake of their existing populations and impact of trade on them was reached. This assessment will inform future proposal to include the rest of the sandalwood populations in Appendix II.
Under CITES, Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called “look-alike species” – species of which the specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.
Having sandalwood listed on Appendix II implies that all trade in sandalwood within the listed range states shall now be through CITES permitting system that will control trade, monitor and support community livelihood through sustainable species utilization.
The original proposal was to have all populations of the species included in Appendix II.
Kenya’s proposal on cheetahs was also adopted by CITES. The resolution is to institute a study to help understand the levels and routes of illegal trade in live cheetah and body parts so that law enforcement efforts can be directed towards combating their illegal trade.
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.