India fights to get rosewood delisted from threatened list at CITES meeting in Geneva

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on August 22, 2019

Survival under threat: Trade restrictions on rosewood have affected 30,000 artisans in India, it was pointed out

Argues that the wood is available in abundance in the country and curbs will hurt small-scale artisans, farmers

India, with the help of Bangladesh and Nepal, is engaged in a tough battle at the forum for international trade for endangered species to de-list ‘Dalbergia sisoo’, commonly known as rosewood or sheesham, from the list of threatened varieties in order to protect the livelihood of handicraft manufacturers and farmers in the Sub-continent.

The three are trying to convince member countries at the on-going Conference of Parties (CoP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva, to allow rosewood to be traded freely as it is available in abundance in the country and doesn’t need protection. There will be a vote on the issue later this week. “We need two-third member countries of CITES to vote in our favour. We have managed to convince several African countries on the need to delist rosewood but the South American countries are yet to relent,” Rakesh Kumar from the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts, told BusinessLine.

Trade regulation

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is leading India’s fight in Geneva for delisting of rosewood from Appendix II of CITES which includes species that are not facing extinction but nonetheless need trade regulation as their survival could be threatened.

The Ministry has submitted a proposal to CITES based on Non Detrimental Finding (NDF) study carried out by Botanical Survey of India, which shows that Dalbergia sissoo does not fall into any threatened category and is available in abundance both in wild and cultivated populations. Moreover, the species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range.

At the COP meeting in Johannesburg in 2016, the entire genus of Dalbergia, including Dalbergia sissoo was placed under Appendix II, following complaints from a number of South American and African countries that a rise in interest in the wood of Dalbergia in international markets, primarily in China was fuelling an illegal trade, which was decimating Dalbergia populations.

Once an item is listed in Appendix II, exporters need to obtain a certificate from CITES or an equivalent certificate from an authorised local body (Vriksh Shipment Certificate issued by EPCH in case of rosewood), which is a time-consuming and intricate process beyond the reach of small-scale artisans and farmers.

India, in a panel discussion organised at the on-going CITES meeting in Geneva earlier this week, pointed out that the unnecessary trade restrictions on rosewood had affected the future of over 30,000 artisans in India who are directly engaged with manufacturing of rosewood.

Over 50 participants from various countries attended the meeting including representatives from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bolivia, Italy, the UK and the US.

“We hope the participants were convinced about the need to de-list rosewood and would vote in India’s favour,” Kumar said.

Published on August 22, 2019

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