Violence and gun fights between law enforcement agencies and poachers of tigers, elephants and rhino are well known and occur often but increasingly there are armed conflicts between loggers and law enforcement agencies. As the price of hardwoods rocket driven by high-end furniture demand in China the listings on CITES Appendices of a number of hardwood species gives a new tool to enforcement agencies and campaign groups.
One of the hardwoods to gain new protection yesterday was the Siam Rosewood, an endangered species that grows in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, While Thailand already has in place a complete logging ban on the species illegal loggers from Cambodia regularly cross the border to cut down the trees. The conflicts between Thai law enforcement and the loggers is becoming increasingly deadly.
The price of Siam rosewood has hit USD 50,000 per cubic metre on the Chinese black-market which is the major destination of the wood. With the new listing law enforcement agencies now have new powers to seize and confiscated the wood.
The NGO Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has been supporting the efforts of the Thai Government to secure listing for Siam rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) on Appendix II of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), currently meeting in Bangkok. Yesterdays consensus on protection meant the species was put on the list without the need for a vote.
“This is a significant step forward for this desperately threatened species,” said Faith Doherty, head of EIA’s Forests Campaign. “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.
“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.”
EIA’s research indicates the illegal rosewood trade in Thailand has boomed since demand surged in China in 2007 and today’s listing agreement will compel the Chinese authorities to seize illegal Siam rosewood entering the country.
“Thailand and co-sponsor Vietnam are to be congratulated for the courage to ask for help in securing international protection for this key tree species,” added Doherty.
“With formal protection in place, EIA will now be closely monitoring the illegal trade in rosewood and looks forward to working closely with all enforcement agencies in rosewood range states and China.”