Kingdom to seek CITES protection for Siamese Rosewood
Thailand will ask members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to list Siamese Rosewood as a plant in need of strict trade and export controls.
Thailand is believed to be home to the world's only remaining Siamese Rosewood forests.
The request will be made at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Bangkok on March 3-14. It will be the first time the Kingdom has requested that Siamese Rosewood be listed in Appendix II of the convention.
About 2,000 environmental experts and officials from 170 countries are expected to attend the event.
The participants will vote on the regulations governing different types of wildlife, the procedures that members must follow in order to protect species and guard against smuggling, offer help to members in academic fields and specify punishments for those who do not follow the convention.
Siamese Rosewood is not necessarily threatened with extinction, but the Kingdom believes trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with its survival.
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation director-general Manopat Huamuangkaew said the current Rosewood forests are facing a crisis due to smuggling of the timber.
The surviving Siamese Rosewood forests are situated in Surin province's Panom Dongrak Wildlife Sanctuary and Ubon Ratchatani's Phujongnayoy National Park, as well as in areas around the Preah Vihear Temple near the Cambodian border.
It was estimated that 300,000 Siamese Rosewood trees were left in Thai forests in 2005. Just six years later, this estimate had declined drastically to 80,000-100,000 trees.
"It is important [that the species] be conserved as a world heritage," he said.
The department will also propose that Siamese and saltwater crocodiles in captive breeding in Thailand be moved from CITES' Appendix I, which comprises species threatened with extinction, to Appendix II.
Manopat said Thailand has developed expertise in effective conserving and breeding of crocodiles, and could breed them for trading purposes.
Assoc Prof Parnthep Ratanakorn, dean of veterinary science at Mahidol University, said if the members of the convention endorse Thailand's proposal to downgrade Siamese and saltwater crocodiles to Appendix II, local crocodile farms would be able to generate income from exporting crocodile skin.
Manopat said a proposal to regulate illegal trade in ivory and Rhino horn would also be submitted to the conference to prevent smuggling or product laundering through Thailand.
The government will also suggest that relevant agencies amend the 1992 Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act, which is still in force, to include greater penalties and cover species in Appendix I, as well as to appoint the Commerce Ministry to force ivory-business operators to register and list their products to make enforcement more effective.
The smuggling of wildlife and plants remains a major problem, ruining the environment and depleting natural resources, especially wildlife and products smuggled from other countries into Thailand such as ivory, tiger parts, rhino horns, pangolins, bears, monkeys and birds. Thailand is known as a hub for smuggling wildlife.
During the past five years, state environmental agencies have arrested many offenders, particularly wildlife smugglers. There have been more than 3,000 arrests with exhibits of more than 50,000 seized wild animals and carcasses.
Unfortunately, the situation has not improved, as wildlife smuggling continues and is now related to the transnational drug and arms trades, Manopat said.
CITES has three appendices
Appendix I lists animals and plants threatened with extinction in which trade is prohibited except for educational research and propagation purposes.
Appendix II refers to protected animals and plants for which strict measures and monitoring systems are needed to ensure that numbers do not decline.
Appendix III refers to animals and plants that are totally protected, for which a member country has asked other CITES parties to assist in controlling trade.