Reuters: CITES Tightens Ramin Controls, May Save Orang-utan

Page - April 27, 2005
BANGKOK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A United Nations conference adopted a proposal on Friday to tighten controls on the trade of a commercially valuable hardwood known as ramin, which could help save the endangered orang-utan ape.

Orangutan sanctuary Wanariset Samboja

Environmentalists hailed the decision as a major victory in the war against illegal logging that threatens tropical rainforests across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The decision was made at a meeting in the Thai capital of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates the global trade in wild flora and fauna.

"CITES today has shown it has relevance in the fight against illegal logging," said Julian Newman of the Environmental Investigation Agency, which monitors the illicit trade in forest products.

All species of ramin will now be included in CITES Appendix II, which means global trade in the tree, in high demand for furniture, will be subject to much tighter controls.

It had been protected in Indonesia under Appendix III, which is far less stringent.

About 30 species of ramin are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Fiji.

The illegal harvest of the tree is regarded as one of many threats to the survival of the "orange ape" or orang-utan, one of man's closest living relatives.

"After today's vote, the future of ramin and the species who live in these forests looks brighter," said Susan Lieberman, head of conservation group WWF International's delegation to CITES.

The move could blaze a trail for more commercially valuable tree species to be listed at future CITES meetings and could have huge implications for the global timber and forest products industry.

From Reuters News

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