CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is an international treaty governing trade in endangered or potentially endangered plants and animals. Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants are listed in one of three "Appendices."
As buyers of wood products, the simple way to look at the Appendices is as three levels of risk and control, and to remember that CITES is country-specific.
- Appendix I, about 1,200 species, are species that are threatened with extinction and generally no trade at all is allowed.
- Appendix II covers about endangered 21,000 species or species that are either similar to or potential substitutes for others on the listing. Trade is controlled with documentation checks and special licensing requirements.
- Appendix III includes about 170 species which have been listed by the country of origin to help control their trade.
CITES can be a product-specific listing. A listing might cover logs, but not flooring.
Remember, too, that trade in CITES is under constant control. That means if you import a product under CITES control and then export it, you need documentation in both directions. The control of trade follows that material always; it's not just related to the first trade. This is why CITES is always an issue for musicians-many guitars or other musical instruments have inlays or other material that are of wood now under CITES control. Musicians need to either have documentation showing the production was "pre CITES listing" or that the wood is properly controlled-and they have to carry that with them for every border crossing.
More information on CITES can be found here:
- Info from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Traveling Across Borders with Musical Instruments
- Info from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on Import and Export Permits
- Info from U.S. Customs & Border Patrol on Endangered species, CITES, endangered wildlife, plants, exotic skins and animals
- Press release from CITES regarding extending legal controls on high-value timber at the request of Nicaragua and Russian Federation
Stay tuned: In next week's post we'll find out more about Russian oak being listed on CITES at the end of this month.