India got rules for export of timber-based products made of Shisham or North India Rosewood eased under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). The 19th meeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES is being held in Panama from 14th to 25th of November 2022.

 

Background

  • Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo) is included in Appendix II of the convention, thereby requiring to follow CITES regulations for the trade of the species.
  • As of now every consignment of weight above 10 kg requires CITES permit.
  • Due to this restriction exports of furniture and handicrafts made of Dalbergia sissoo from India has been continuously falling from an estimated Rs 1000 crore per annum before the listing, to Rs 500-600 crore per annum after the listing.
  • The decrease in exports of Dalbergia sissoo products has affected the livelihoods of around 50,000 artisans who work with the species.

 

Approved changes

  • On India’s initiative a proposal to clarify the quantity of Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo) items such as furniture and artefacts was considered in the current meeting.
  • After sustained deliberations by Indian representatives, it was agreed upon that any number of Dalbergia sissoo timber-based items can be exported as a single consignment in a shipment without CITES permits if the weight of each individual item of this consignment is less than 10 kg.
  • Further, it was agreed that for net weight of each item only timber will be considered and any other item used in the product like metal etc. will be ignored.
  • This is a great relief for the Indian artisans and furniture industry.

 

What is CITES?

  • The CITES is part of a multilateral treaty that includes plant, animals and birds under varying categories of threat of extinction and which will be jointly protected by members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. India is a signatory to this.
  • CITES was conceptualised in 1963 at a meeting of the (IUCN) International Union For Conservation Of Nature. It came into force in 1975 and consists of 183 member-countries till date that abide by CITES regulations by implementing legislation within their own borders to enforce those regulations.
  • Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the CITES is administered by the United Nations under the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).
  • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws. Rather, it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
  • The protected species are grouped into three categories with different levels of protection –
      • Appendix I –
        • Includes the world’s most endangered plants and animals, such as tigers and gorillas.
        • International commercial trade in these species, or even parts of them, is completely banned, except in rare cases such as scientific research.
      • Appendix II –
        • Contains species like corals that are not yet threatened with extinction, but which could become threatened if unlimited trade were allowed.
        • Also included are “look-alike” species that closely resemble those already on the list for conservation reasons.
        • Plants and animals in this category can be traded internationally, but there are strict rules.
      • Appendix III – Species whose trade is only regulated within a specific country can be placed on Appendix III if that country requires cooperation from other nations to help prevent exploitation.