India’s proposal to remove rosewood from Appendix II of CITES
17th Jan, 2019
India has proposed to remove rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
- Appendix II of CITES lists species that are not threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.
What lies at the heart of India’s concern?
- During 17th COP (2016), several African and Latin American countries had raised concerns over a “considerable rise in interest in the wood of Dalbergia in international markets, primarily in China”. According to them, this was fuelling an illegal trade, which was decimating Dalbergia populations.
- Although, CITES focuses on the protection of individual species, COP 17 put the entire genus under Appendix II, which regulates trade in specie
- Though most of the 182 member countries agreed to the proposal, India, for the first time, entered a reservation concerning the inclusion of all rosewood in Appendix II.
- Since all species of Dalbergia are not threatened, India has suggested that CITES should regulate the trade of individual species based on their conservation status.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies D latifolia (Indian rosewood), native to southeast India, as “vulnerable”, while considers D sissoo, also called sheesham or North Indian rosewood, a species of least concern.
- According to the proposal send by India, the species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range, it is even invasive in some parts of the world.
- Listing of Dalbergia genus may create unnecessary complications in the trade of common species like D sissoo, which are being managed and monitored through the management plans of forest areas and are protected under the forest laws of India.
Rosewood economy for India
- The wood is prized for its unique, blood-hued lustre, intricate grain, durability and fine finish. Due to its acoustic properties, it is also sought-after for making guitars.
- Export market of rosewood handicraft, a thriving sector has nearly crashed since an international agreement came into effect in 2017, regulating the trade in all the 250 rosewood species (under Dalbergia genus).
What is CITES?
- It is an international agreement between governments aimed to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Is CITES legally binding?
- Yes, CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention ('joined' CITES) are known as Parties.
- Although, legally binding – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
How CITES works?
- It works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.
- Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
What is meant by listed species under CITES?
- The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
- Appendix I: includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
- Appendix II: includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
- Appendix III: contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.