Geneva, 11 February 2022. On 1 - 4, 7 and 11 February 2022, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened an online Task Force meeting on illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed tree species.
The online meeting brought together CITES, Customs, police, and other authorities from 34 countries, as well as representatives from the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) organizations, other inter-governmental organizations, regional enforcement networks and non-governmental organizations. Meeting participants engaged in discussions and worked to propose strategies to combat illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed tree species more effectively. Over the course of the meeting several matters were addressed, including:
- Forest legality, traceability and CITES provisions
- International and regional cooperation
- Physical inspections, species identification and risk assessment and profiling; and
- Addressing corruption and financial crimes linked to the forestry sector.
CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: “Large-scale illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed tree species is a matter of global concern, especially in the context of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). The actions of criminals who drive industrial scale illicit trafficking prevent countries from conserving wildlife, maintaining healthy ecosystems, reducing poverty, and combating climate change. The scale of the problem has made it clear that there is an urgent need to enhance enforcement and collective efforts to address this illegal trade. The work of this Task Force meeting and its outcomes will guide our Parties in deploying the strategies, activities, and measures needed to step up and further strengthen their responses to illegal trade in CITES-listed tree species.”
CITES Parties increasingly turn to the Convention to protect tree species from overexploitation and ensure legal and sustainable use of these important resources. In 2016, at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, 281 new tree species were added to the CITES Appendices, and in 2019, at the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, an additional 19 species were added. At present, a total of 506 tree species are included in the CITES Appendices. Of these, 97% are listed in Appendix II, meaning that they can be traded, provided that they meet the Convention’s provisions on sustainability, legality and traceability.
The outcomes of the Task Force meeting will also be presented to the 74th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee that will be held in Lyon, France, from 7 to 11 March 2022.
The online Task Force meeting was organized thanks to the financial support from the European Union, France and Monaco to the ICCWC Strategic Programme.