India demands removal of rosewood from CITES

• 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.

• The species is currently part of Appendix II of CITES that has species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

• But, India doesn’t want that for rosewood.

Key highlights

• CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.

• Appendix I has species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

• Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling trade.

• 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 species.

• 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.

• The entire genus of Dalbergia was put in the appendix based on the “lookalike” criterion. This criterion is not based on the level of threat the species face, but the difficulty of distinguishing the species from other threatened species of the genus. However, the Indian proposal does not consider this problem.

• Apart from Dalbergia sissoo, India has also proposed to transfer small clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), smooth coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) from Appendix II to Appendix I, thereby giving more protection to the species.

• The otter species, according to the proposal, is threatened by international trade and habitat loss.

• The proposal also includes inclusion of Gekko gecko and Wedgefish (Rhinidae) in Appendix II of CITES.

• It says that Gekko gecko is traded highly for Chinese traditional medicine.


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims level: CITES, Rosewood

Mains level: Harmony of India with global conservation bodies

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