The role of CITES in the governance of transnational timber trade

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This scoping paper analyzes the governance of trade in timber-producing species regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in light of the Convention's increasing relevance as a tool to control transnational timber trade. The CITES regulatory framework is outlined as it relates to tree species, along with the compliance mechanisms developed to build range state capacity for implementing trade controls in relation to tropical timber species and to apply sanctions to countries that fail to take recommended action to resolve implementation problems. The study describes stricter domestic measures developed by consumer countries, most notably the EU, to control imports of CITES-listed species, including trees, as well as additional regulatory frameworks designed by importing countries to exclude illegal timber from their markets. It also examines the implications for CITES of regional economic integration given the Convention's dependence on national border controls, with a focus on experience in the EU and trends in Asia. Key findings from three case studies of how CITES has approached governance of trade in valuable timber-producing species - ramin (Gonystylus spp.) from Asia, afrormosia (Pericopsis elata) from Central and West Africa and bigleaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) from Latin America - are presented and other potential case studies identified. The study concludes by identifying priority areas where further research could contribute towards catalyzing positive change to strengthen the governance of transnational timber trade, and ultimately towards the survival of tree species traded illegally and unsustainably.

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