CITES Sausage Making Isn’t Limited To CoPs

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By Ashley Amidon
CAE Executive Director International
Wood Products Association
Alexandria, VA
(703) 820-7807 (c)
www.iwpawood.org

Years ago, compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was limited to a relatively small number of traders who recognized that their particular market niche required specialized knowledge about requirements and processes that was largely unfamiliar to suppliers of other international wood species. Since 2016, however, hundreds of additional species, including whole genera such as Cedrela and Dalbergia and widely traded species like Khaya and – coming in 2024 – Ipe and Cumaru, have been added to the CITES appendices, adding significant permitting requirements for a much larger cohort of industry members.

IWPA staff is working diligently to advocate for our industry at CITES meetings, including at the meeting of the CITES Standing Committee that occurred in early November. While the species proposals considered every three years at Conferences of the Parties (CoPs) garner the most attention, in the years between CoPs Parties and stakeholder Observer organizations like IWPA debate policy proposals that fundamentally impact the way CITES functions.

IWPA staff has been particularly active in the consideration of movement towards a new programmatic focus on “CITES and Forests.” Some Parties, and the CITES Secretariat itself, argue that CITES should move from a species-focused paradigm to instead focus on ecosystems such as forests more generally. Certainly, our industry is focused on the health of the global forests where the species our members source are found. But movement to ecosystem-based trade restrictions is not contemplated in the text of the Convention, and many Parties, including the United States, agree.

Additionally, the Standing Committee is considering a proposal asking CITES Secretariat staff to develop draft guidance and best practices related to the period between the adoption of a proposal to transfer a species from one Appendix to another and the entry into force of the new listing. IWPA members have been negatively impacted by the current lack of a clear and uniform understanding both internationally and in each country of when permits are required as new species have been added to the CITES appendices. IWPA staff will continue to urge Parties to facilitate clear guidance that takes into account the realities of international commerce, with shipments often departing exporting countries before a listing goes into effect and arriving in the importing country after.

While these issues will continue to be debated before final consideration at the next Conference of the Parties expected in 2025, they will have to be implemented by country Management Authorities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of CITES Management Authority.

IWPA has invited key leaders from FWS to join us at IWPA’s 2024 World of Wood Convention and educate attendees on both the basics of CITES permitting for industry members who are new to the CITES process as well as broader developments such as the upcoming implementation of the Ipe and Cumaru Appendix II listings. It is also important to remember that you can always call or e-mail IWPA staff with any questions you may have about specific CITES issues or general questions about how the Convention works.

IWPA will continue to work closely with our industry allies to speak clearly and forcefully that CITES and the implementing Parties must avoid trade restrictions unless there is a clear conservation benefit consistent with the text of the Convention.

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