The Evolving Role of CITES in Regulating the International Timber Trade


  • Sara F. Oldfield


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) applies to the full range of animal and plant species and products that are or may become adversely affected by international trade. It is perhaps best known for its role in the conservation of charismatic mammals such as elephants and rhinos that have been targeted for centuries for their valuable wildlife products. Few species of plants have received the same level of attention under the Convention. International trade in timber is the most valuable form of wildlife trade and illegal sourcing and trade in timber is widespread. The use of CITES to control international trade in valuable timber species was originally considered controversial with other international mechanisms, generally non-regulatory, considered more appropriate. This article describes how CITES is becoming increasingly accepted as a tool to demonstrate and monitor the legality of trade in timber species listed in the Appendices of the Convention.