Victory for the Amazon, its people and a big leaf tree

Feature story - 14 November, 2002
Ten years of work to protect Amazon mahogany has paid off. This high-priced hard wood was driving the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, corruption and even murder. But a decision to regulate international trade of mahogany will give the species and the forest a fighting chance.

Victory at the CITES meeting means mahogany will have a fighting chance and the Amazon and its people will benefit.

At a meeting in Santiago, Chile, nations from around the world agreed it is time to give the tree species a fighting chance to survive under controlled and legal trade. Mahogany is now listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. This vote effectively means that trade of this highly valuable species will be from sustainable sources and strictly managed forests.

Paulo Adario who works in the Amazon for Greenpeace says he is very proud of the result of years of campaigning. "This is a victory for mahogany, the environment and the people of Latin America forests who depend of forest resources for their survival."

Big Leaf Mahogany is found in the neo-tropical forests that range from the South of Mexico through Central America and down to the Amazon.

The proposal to list mahogany on Appendix II of CITES was submitted by Nicaragua and supported by Guatemala. During the discussions on mahogany delegates from Brazil and Bolivia made strong statements against the listing. But, the UK, European Union and Central American countries stressed that the Appendix II listing will not only protect the species, but also safeguard the market and protect consumers from illegal trade.

Victory was gained through secret ballot with 68 in favour, 30 against, 14 abstentions and three spoiled ballots. According to the rules and procedures of CITES, there is a slight chance that the proposal could be brought back to plenary for consideration by all the delegates at which time a two-thirds vote is needed to agree to reopen the discussion.

We are calling on Brazil and Bolivia to accept the decision of CITES delegates and ensure that their countries will do their best to implement sustainable mahogany logging and legal trade which will result from the Appendix II listing.

The CITES decision sends a very clear signal to the global market that only legal, social and environmentally sustainable timber should be traded. The tide is turning in favour of the world's ancient forests. Markets and consumers are demanding sustainable forest products and this is a strong step toward delivering on their demands.

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Find out more about mahogany and its role in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.