From: Alisa Tang, Associated Press
Published October 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Conservation Meeting Agrees to Upgrade Protection for Endangered Southeast Asian Wood

BANGKOK, Thailand — An international conservation conference recently approved measures to reduce trade and increase protection of an increasingly rare Asian tropical wood, an official said.


Creamy-colored ramin wood, which grows mostly in Indonesia and Malaysia and is often illegally logged, will be "regulated and carefully monitored," said Stephen Nash of the secretariat of the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).


The wood, previously noted but not regulated under CITES, was moved into CITES Appendix II, under which all member countries wanting to export or re-export the wood must hold a permit.


The decision, taken by a committee of specialists concerned with the issue, becomes final and binding when formally endorsed by a full meeting of CITES at the end of next week.


CITES sets trading regulations for about 30,000 plant and animal species, seeking especially to preserve those in danger of extinction. Participants from 166 countries are in the Thai capital Bangkok for the organization's meeting, which is held every two years for review and revisions.


"Definitely there will be an impact on volumes," said Steven E. Johnson, of the Japan-based intergovernmental International Tropical Timber Organization, at a news conference.


Other environmentalists cheered the move, saying it would likely have knock-on benefits for wildlife living in the forests where it grows, including orangutans and tigers.


Susan Lieberman, head of the World Wildlife Fund delegation at the meeting, said, "After today's vote, the future of ramin and the species who live in these forests looks brighter."


"The (ramin) listing is also vitally important for the protection of forest-dwelling animals, including threatened and endangered species, whose habitat is destroyed by illegal loggers," said a news release from the International Programs for Defenders of Wildlife, a wildlife conservation organization based in Washington, D.C. "Critically endangered orangutans are at particular risk, and (the) listing offers some hope for the survival of the species," it said.


The wood, popular in the United States and Europe, often ends up in such products as window blinds, baby cots, pool cues, and picture frames.


Source: Associated Press


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