Qatar: The Mahoganies head list of plants under discussion


As news breaks that talks have failed to protect enigmatic animals such as polar bears and blue-fin tuna, what hope do the plants have?

Heading the list of plants being discussed at the general assembly of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are the mahoganies and other valuable timbers. The world summit has been discussing new measures to trace the legal origin of timber entering international markets and ensure the sustainable harvesting of mahogany and other precious timbers.

The neotropical populations of the big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) are listed in CITES Appendix II, which requires shipments of the timber to be accompanied by a CITES export permit. Big-leaf mahogany is a very valuable species, that is prized for furniture, boats, and musical instruments (among many other things) but it's populations are severely fragmented and in serious decline.

According to the CITES press release one cubic metre of the wood can fetch over US$1,000, with one tree alone producing over US$100,000 worth of high-quality furniture. According to the release this has left the species commercially extinct in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and other countries in Latin America, with a total of decline of over 70% in Central America since 1950.

It isn't the only mahogany facing a torrid time. The Cuban mahogany (S. mahogani) and Honduras mahogany (S. humilis) are also now commercially extinct.

We await more hopeful news eagerly.

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Qatar: Endangered species on the table


The future trading of many of the world's most endangered species could be decided over the next 10 days in Doha, Qatar at the 15th COP (Conference of the Parties) CITES meeting.