Summary report, 19–23 October 2015

22nd Meeting of the CITES Plants Committee

The twenty-second meeting of the Plants Committee (PC22) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 19-23 October 2015 in Tbilisi, Georgia. Approximately 150 participants from national governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.  

The PC worked continuously throughout the week to tackle a full agenda. Items for discussion included: guidance on making non-detriment findings (NDFs) for trees; the Action Plan for Malagasy ebonies (Diospyros spp.) and Malagasy Rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.); capacity building; extinct or possibly extinct species; evaluation of the Review of Significant Trade (RST); harvesting of and trade in Prunus africana (African cherry); timber identification; amendment of the annotation for Appendix-II orchids to exempt finished products packaged and ready for retail trade containing components of Appendix-II orchids; standard nomenclature; and regional reports. Delegates also considered proposals for possible listings at the seventeenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in September 2016.

Participants acted in a cooperative spirit throughout the week to get through the heavy agenda. The recommendations agreed on at PC22 will be forwarded for discussion at the 66th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC), to be held January 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland, prior to CoP17, which will convene in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2016.


CITES was established as a response to growing concerns that over-exploitation of wildlife through international trade was contributing to the rapid decline of many species of plants and animals around the world. The Convention was signed by representatives from 80 countries in Washington, DC, on 3 March 1973, and entered into force on 1 July 1975. There are currently 181 parties to the Convention.

The aim of CITES is to ensure that the international trade of wild animal and plant species does not threaten their survival. CITES parties regulate wildlife trade through controls and regulations on species listed in three appendices. Appendix-I lists species endangered due to international trade, permitting such trade only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix-II species are those that may become endangered if their trade is not regulated; thus, they require controls aimed at preventing unsustainable use, maintaining ecosystems and preventing species from entering Appendix-I. Appendix-III species are those subject to domestic regulation by a party requesting the cooperation of other parties to control international trade in that species.

In order to list a species in Appendix-I or II, a party must submit a proposal for approval by the CoP that is supported by scientific and biological data on population and trade trends. The proposal must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of parties present and voting. As the trade impact on a species increases or decreases, the CoP decides whether the species should be transferred or removed from the appendices.

Approximately 5,600 fauna species and 30,000 flora species are protected under the three CITES appendices. Parties regulate international trade of CITES species through a system of permits and certificates that are required before specimens listed in its appendices are imported, exported or introduced from the sea. Each party is required to adopt national legislation and to designate two national authorities, namely, a Management Authority that is responsible for issuing permits and certificates based on the advice of a Scientific Authority. These two national authorities also assist with CITES enforcement through cooperation with customs, police and other appropriate agencies. Parties maintain trade records that are forwarded annually to the CITES Secretariat, thus enabling the compilation of statistical information on the global volume of international trade in an appendix-listed species.

The operational bodies of CITES include the SC and two scientific committees: the PC and the Animals Committee (AC).

CONFERENCES OF THE PARTIES: The first CoP was held in Bern, Switzerland, in November 1976, and subsequent CoPs have been held every two to three years. The CoP meets to, inter alia: review progress in the conservation of species included in the appendices; discuss and adopt proposals to amend the lists of species in Appendices I and II; consider recommendations and proposals from parties, the Secretariat, the SC and the scientific committees; and recommend measures to improve the effectiveness of the Convention and the functioning of the Secretariat. The CoP also periodically reviews the list of resolutions and decisions, as well as the species listed in its appendices.

CITES CoP13: CoP13 met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 2-14 October 2004. Delegates addressed a range of topics, including 50 proposals to amend the CITES appendices. CoP13 approved the listing of ramin, agarwood-producing taxa, the great white shark and the humphead wrasse in Appendix-II, as well as the uplisting of the Irrawaddy dolphin from Appendix-II to I. Regarding the African elephant, Namibia saw its request for an annual ivory quota rejected, but was allowed to proceed with a strictly controlled sale of traditional ivory carvings. Delegates also agreed on an action plan to curtail unregulated domestic ivory markets. Namibia and South Africa were each allowed an annual quota of five black rhinos for trophy hunting, and Swaziland was allowed to open up strictly controlled hunting of white rhinos. Other decisions focused on synergies with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), while enforcement issues also received considerable attention.

CITES CoP14: CoP14 met in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 3-15 June 2007. Delegates addressed a range of topics, including: the CITES Strategic Vision 2008-2013; a guide on compliance with the Convention; management of annual export quotas; and species trade and conservation issues, including Asian big cats, sharks and sturgeons. Delegates agreed that no cetacean species should be subject to periodic review while the International Whaling Commission moratorium is in place. CoP14 approved the listing of: slender-horned and Cuvier’s gazelles and slow loris on Appendix-I; and Brazil wood, sawfish and eel on Appendix-II. It also approved amending the annotation on African elephants to allow a one-off sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe with a nine-year resting period for further ivory trade. The media spotlight was on negotiations on the future of ivory trade and African elephant conservation, with many highlighting the consensus by African range states as a major achievement of the meeting.

CITES CoP15: CoP15 met in Doha, Qatar, from 13-25 March 2010. The meeting considered 68 agenda items and 42 proposals to amend the CITES appendices. CoP15 adopted resolutions and decisions directed to Parties, the Secretariat and Convention bodies on a wide range of topics, including: electronic permitting; Asian big cats; rhinoceroses; bigleaf mahogany; and Madagascar plant species. Regarding species listings, CoP15 decided to list, among others: Kaiser’s spotted newt; five species of tree frogs; the unicorn beetle; rosewood; holywood; and several Madagascar plant species.

CITES CoP16: CoP16 met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3-14 March 2013. The meeting adopted 55 new listing proposals, including on sharks, manta rays, turtles and timber. Nine proposals were rejected (Caspian snowcock, Tibetan snowcock, saltwater crocodile, Siamese crocodile, South American freshwater stingray, Rosette river stingray, blood pheasant and two species of freshwater turtles). Three proposals on Southern white rhino and two African elephants were withdrawn. The following three proposals were not considered: Indochinese box turtle; Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle; and Annam leaf turtle. The CoP also adopted strong enforcement measures to address wildlife crime.

SC64: SC64 convened in Bangkok, Thailand, on 14 March 2013. The meeting discussed: national ivory action plans, wherein the SC Chair noted the willingness of the eight parties concerned to cooperate to produce ivory action plans and to report on their implementation; and the establishment and renewal of working groups.

AC27 AND PC21 MEETINGS: AC27 convened in Veracruz, Mexico, from 28 April to 1 May 2014, followed by the Joint Meeting of the AC and PC, which met from 2-3 May 2014 and PC21, which met from 4-8 May 2014. The Committees focused on the levels of global commercial trade in products and derivatives of CITES-listed species, and identifying cases of unsustainable use of species of conservation concern. Some species were highlighted for special review, including lions and cheetahs. The Committees also recommended bringing international trade in long-tailed macaque monkeys, Fischer’s two-horned chameleons, West African and Asian three-spot seahorses, and Euphorbia itremensis back to sustainable levels. The Committees also expressed concern over the sustainability of international trade in specimens of polar bears, pangolins, tortoises and turtles, and butterflies, and planned to examine these cases in more detail at their next meetings.

SC65: SC65 convened from 7-11 July 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. On Asian big cats, the SC agreed to establish an intersessional working group to report back at SC66. On cheetahs, the SC mandated the newly established intersessional working group to coordinate with the Secretariat on the organization of a workshop before the next AC meeting. On rhinos and elephants, the SC adopted recommendations requesting non-complying countries to meet a tight deadline to take action or risk suspension of trade.

AC28: AC28 convened from 30 August – 3 September 2015 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The AC addressed a lengthy agenda, including: extinct or possibly extinct species; freshwater stingrays; periodic review of species included in Appendices I and II; evaluation of the RST; captive-bred and ranched specimens; snake trade and conservation management; production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species; RST of Appendix-II species; and conservation and management of sharks. Delegates also considered proposals for possible listings at CoP17.


On Monday, PC Chair Margarita Clemente (Spain) welcomed participants to PC22, noting that the increasing number of documents portrays progress and productivity, and highlighted new challenges, including action on tree species. CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said that this is the first time a CITES body has met in Georgia and stressed that the full agenda contains not only technical but also policy-related issues, aiming to provide the best available scientific advice to CoP17. Teimuraz Murgulia, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia, underscored, among other things, the rich and diverse flora of Georgia and the Caucasian region, the importance of CITES in that respect, and success stories of active collaboration.


The CITES Secretariat called on PC members to declare financial interests that might impair their objectivity and independence, and noted that none had declared any such interest.

RULES OF PROCEDURE: The Secretariat then introduced the Rules of Procedure (PC22 Doc. 2 (Rev. 1)) and the proposed changes to Rule 13 (election of the Chair and Vice-Chair of both the AC and PC), Rule 20 (submission of documents) and Rule 22 (dissemination of documents). She noted that the revised document contains the outcomes of discussions at AC28, including a proposed review of the rules of procedure of all meetings under the auspices of CITES, as well as an amendment of the terms of reference (ToRs) for the PC and the AC.  

AC Chair Carolina Caceres (Canada) presented the outcome of deliberations during AC28, calling for updating the rules of procedure and ToRs in order to discard outdated references and to better reflect important elements.

On Rule 13, the Asia representative, supported by the Africa, Oceania and Europe representatives, favored proposed “option a,” wherein the regional representatives or their alternates present at the CoP elect a Chair and Vice-Chair immediately following the CoP. The North America representative favored “option b,” wherein the previous Chair and Vice-Chair hold office until their successors are elected at the first meeting of the Committee after the CoP meeting, noting that full Committee participation is essential. PC Chair Clemente urged parties to include PC representatives in their delegations to the CoP, noting that response by mail may be pursued if representation is not adequate.  

On Rule 20, the PC noted problems in the English and French translations of the document, but adopted the proposed amendments nonetheless. On Rule 22, the Asia representative called for all documents to be online, in all three official languages, 30 days before the respective meeting for internal approval. The Secretariat said that, under current arrangements, such a change would be unrealistic. PC Chair Clemente noted that, during CoP17, regions may ask for an increase in the Secretariat’s budget to cover similar considerations.

Outcome: The PC adopted the amendments to Rule 13, choosing “option a” with a minor editorial amendment. The PC also adopted the proposed amendments for Rules 20 and 22.

The PC supported an overall review of the rules of procedure as well as an amendment of the ToRs of the Scientific Committees, and a draft decision, which will be included in the joint report of the PC and AC for consideration at CoP17.  

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND WORKING PROGRAMME: The PC then adopted the agenda (PC22 Doc. 3.1 (Rev. 2)) and the working programme (PC22 Doc. 3.2 (Rev. 3)), with an amendment, proposed by PC Chair Clemente, to include considering an update of Resolution 10.13 to reflect a broader emphasis on trees vs. timber.

ADMISSION OF OBSERVERS: PC Chair Clemente invited PC members, alternate members and the AC Chair to work on the Report of the Secretariat (PC22 Doc. 6.1) for CoP17, and the PC agreed to admit all the observers that had requested and received an invitation to attend the meeting (PC22 Doc. 4).


PREPARATION OF THE REPORT OF THE CHAIR OF THE PC FOR CoP17: On Monday, the Committee established a working group to start preparing the Chair’s report.

ANNOTATIONS FOR SPECIES LISTED IN THE CITES APPENDICES: On Wednesday, the Secretariat presented document PC22 Doc. 6.1 (Report of the Secretariat), referring to Decision 15.35 of CoP16 to commission a trade study, in cooperation with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), to, among other things, review the trade in timber species listed in Appendices II and III. She explained that PC22 should decide on the need for changes in annotations for tree species.

The ITTO Secretariat presented the first phase of the study, including: objectives and background; range state trade overview; preliminary results; and future work. He noted that the compilation and analysis of trade data focused on the wood products trade originating from range states for Pericopsis elata (Afrormosia), Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Siamese rosewood), Swietenia macrophylla (Bigleaf mahogany) and Cedrela odorata (Spanish cedar). He stressed that although patterns of exports and the relative importance of processed products vary widely across range states, total forest product exports from these states for the selected CITES-listed species are substantial. He underscored that, with the exception of the Pericopsis elata range states, a considerable portion of the exports is in secondary processed wood products (SPWP) and wood furniture that fall outside the scope of annotations five (logs, sawn wood and veneer sheets) and six (logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets and plywood). He also noted that for most of the range states, the exports of wood products containing CITES-listed species are likely to account for a very small share of the total forest product trade.

Regarding a possible recommendation to the SC Working Group on Annotations on proposals to amend annotations five and six, and to expand their scope to include SPWP, the US, supported by the EU and Canada, noted that such a broad recommendation is premature and additional information is required. Canada added that a better means of ensuring taxonomic clarity, in addition to harmonized system codes, would be helpful.

On a question from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on whether an increase in trade of finished or semi-finished products is part of an ongoing trend following the listing of a species on CITES, the ITTO Secretariat responded that the main species with a strong increase was Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Siamese rosewood), but said that as the species was recently listed, it is difficult to comment on the trend following the listing.

China noted that a significant increase in SPWP and furniture does not necessarily lead to an increase of trade in CITES-listed species, stressing it is premature to draw definite conclusions.

Guatemala recognized difficulties concerning the traceability of processed products. The Central and South America and the Caribbean representative, speaking on behalf of Peru as they were unable to attend PC22, called for wider dissemination of the results in order to impact decision making.

PC Chair Clemente noted that the annotations under discussion often involve controversies between importing and exporting countries, and underscored the difficulties related to the definition of semi-finished products. The North America representative said that while interpreting the annotations is one issue, extending them poses additional challenges.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) UK noted that annotation five is circumvented in Asian countries, including Thailand, China and Lao PDR, on the basis of logs that are being used as raw materials in importing countries and drew attention to Pterocarpus macrocarpus (Burma padauk) and Dalbergia oliveri (Burmese rosewood) that are traded as look-alikes for Dalbergia cochinchinensis. The representative of Asia responded that further evaluation of related data is necessary to draw any conclusion.

PC Chair Clemente suggested, and delegates agreed, to ask the Secretariat to: report on the next stage of the project to PC23; and make the necessary amendments to relevant decisions so that the issue is addressed at CoP17.

COOPERATION WITH OTHER BIODIVERSITY-RELATED MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS (MEAs): IPBES: On Wednesday, the Chair of the SC Working Group on Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the North America representative, introduced document PC22 Doc. 7.1 (Rev.1). He provided an update on the progress in implementing relevant CoP16 decisions. He said that primary progress includes: AC27/PC21 recommendations to guide the selection of experts for the IPBES sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity assessment (SUB); contacting the IPBES Secretariat for information on the outcome of the IPBES call for nominations for experts for the SUB and how CITES can contribute to SUB scoping; attendance at meetings of the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), where possible; and a notice to CITES parties encouraging attendance at the IPBES e-conference, held in July 2015.

He noted that this report was presented to AC28, where the AC took note of it.  

AC28 Chair Caceres presented on the outcomes of the 6th MEP meeting held in October 2015, noting that the meeting aimed to progress on a number of assessments, with particular attention on the sustainable use assessment. She stated that a draft scoping document was presented, which included the sustainable use and trade of wildlife, tourism and aquaculture. She explained that as tourism and aquaculture are broader topics and not well elaborated on under the CBD definition of sustainable use, the MEP had decided to narrow the scope to focus on the harvest and use of wild species. She underscored that as IPBES’ scope is larger than CITES, it could provide valuable insights on the sustainable use and management of species, and said the scoping document would be tabled at IPBES-4, to be held in February 2016, for approval.  

Outcome: The PC took note of the report and encouraged Parties to contact their IPBES focal points and provide their views regarding the draft scoping of an “Assessment of Sustainable Harvest and Trade of Wild Resources.”

Cooperation with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation of the CBD: On Wednesday, the Chair of the intersessional Working Group on Cooperation with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) of the CBD, representative of North America, introduced the document PC22 Doc. 7.2 (Rev. 2). He provided an update on the progress in implementing relevant CoP16 decisions.

He said that the working group had looked at and assessed the contribution of CITES to the GSPC targets. Based on the replies to a questionnaire circulated to parties, he stated that the working group had assessed that the CITES contribution was “good” for the following GSPC objectives: understanding, documenting and recognizing plant diversity; and using plant diversity in a sustainable and equitable manner. He said the CITES contribution was assessed to be “perfectible” for the following objectives: urgently and effectively conserving plant diversity; promoting education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and its importance to all life on earth; and developing the capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the GSPC.

Austria noted that at a recent GSPC meeting, the Global Environment Facility said that it had changed its funding modalities, and there was now a wider scope of conventions and topics that could access funds. He suggested that this could assist in further research and improved analysis for NDFs.

The North America representative, as the intersessional working group chair, suggested that Annex 4 (capacity building materials) of the document be made available online as it could be of use to Parties and stakeholders.

Outcome: The PC took note of the report and requested the Secretariat to make Annex 4 available on its website as a separate document.

CAPACITY BUILDING: On Wednesday, the Secretariat presented document PC22 Doc. 8.1, highlighting capacity-building activities, such as, inter alia: training materials on making NDFs, as well as an NDF portal on the CITES website; training in support of national scientific authorities; and developing new, targeted actions.

AC Chair Caceres, supported by PC Chair Clemente, stressed that it would be useful for the working group on capacity building and the working group on the review of identification and guidance materials to work jointly, given the overlaps in their mandates.

PC Chair Clemente noted that support for a variety of activities that have contributed to the implementation of Decision 16.29b (capacity building) is directed mainly at animals and suggested separating plants from animals in order for them to get equal attention. She also highlighted lack of access to scientific information and data, with the Secretariat responding that a complete CITES scientific library, accessible to its members, may be the way forward to help Parties with their scientific tasks.

Uganda noted that data and guidance for NDFs under the ITTO-CITES programme on tree species are not accessible for CITES Parties that are not ITTO members, with the Secretariat responding that this provision may be eliminated in future work.

Outcome: The PC took note of the document, as well as the report of the joint working group on capacity building (PC22 Doc. 8.2) and on the review of identification and guidance material. The PC further recommended that that the joint working groups should give equal attention to plants and animals in its work.

GUIDANCE ON MAKING NDFs: Guidance on Making NDFs for Perennial Plants: On Thursday, Germany presented document PC22 Doc. 9.1 on the nine-step process to support CITES scientific authorities making NDFs for species listed in Appendix-II. He highlighted updated versions of the guidance following workshops held in Peru and Georgia, and stressed that, following a workshop to be held in China, a new version will be published and launched at CoP17.

PC Chair Clemente stressed the importance of such initiatives, noting that NDFs are at the heart of the Convention. Many congratulated Germany for its efforts. The Central and South America and the Caribbean, and the Asia, representatives, and Georgia underscored the significance of the regional workshops. The Africa representative asked whether the guidance can be used in international projects or whether they should wait for the updated version. Germany responded that while a document is available, it would be better to wait for the new version to be published. Belgium suggested a trial on Pericopsis elata (Afrormosia) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The EU, Canada and Belgium welcomed a translation in French, with Belgium and France volunteering to do the translation. PC Chair Clemente encouraged Germany to continue updating the guidance and report, if appropriate, to PC23.

Guidance on Making NDFs for Tree Species: Guatemala introduced the related document (PC22 Doc. 9.2 (Rev. 1)) on Monday, stressing that the expert working group on NDFs for CITES-listed tree species met in Guatemala in September 2015, to produce a manual with a flexible methodological framework.

The North America and Europe representatives queried whether time is sufficient to address the issue and suggested an intersessional working group be established to continue deliberations once parties have reviewed the guidance. The Species Survival Network (SSN) underscored the urgency of tackling the issue. PC Chair Clemente noted that the aim is to create a flexible framework that includes a variety of methodologies and techniques, rather than strictly defined steps.

A working group, chaired by Ken Farr (Canada), was established to develop ideas and suggestions to improve the document. The Secretariat was requested to publish any contributions to the document and parties were asked to send their suggestions.   

The working group on making NDFs for trees met on Wednesday. Discussion focused on, inter alia: challenges associated with the overall structure of the document; plans for a CD-ROM with a revised structure for the guidance; the need to reflect the diversity of management situations related to land conversion and how origin overlaps with traceability; potential linkages to the nine-step process developed for making NDFs for perennial plants; and whether a resolution was premature at this stage of development.  

The recommendations from the working group were introduced on Friday. Following some discussion, the proponents of the guidance withdrew the document but agreed to work independently on further elaboration of the guidance in collaboration with the ITTO, taking into account the nine-step guidance for NDFs on perennial plants

The PC thanked the working group for its efforts and agreed to: take note of the work done to date; accept withdrawal of PC22 Doc. 9.2, considering it a work-in-progress; and attach the recommendations to the Chair’s report as a record of discussion.


EXTINCT OR POSSIBLY EXTINCT SPECIES: On Wednesday, the alternate representative for Africa presented document PC22 Doc. 10, including the report of the joint PC and AC intersessional working group on extinct or possibly extinct species. He highlighted pending issues on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition of “extinct” species and whether species included in a higher taxon listing, but which are known to be extinct, should be considered covered by the listing.

AC Chair Caceres presented progress made at AC28 (AC28 Com. 1 (Rev. by Sec.)), underscoring the main amendments to the document.  

The alternate representative for North America, supported by WWF and opposed by the US, said there is no need to annotate extinct species in the higher taxon listings. The US stressed that such annotations help enforcement and, in addition, supported the IUCN definition. Mexico suggested, and delegates agreed, not to include the annotation in the appendices but said that extinct species should be appropriately flagged in the various databases.

Outcome: The PC adopted the recommendations in document AC28 Com. 1 (Rev. by Sec.) with the amendments and asked the Secretariat to request the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to ensure that extinct species listed in the appendices are appropriately flagged in the Species+ database and the Checklist of CITES Species.


RST IN SPECIMENS OF APPENDIX-II SPECIES: Evaluation of the RST: On Monday, Nomenclature Specialist Noel McGough presented the results of the RST evaluation (PC22 Doc. 11.1), noting that the AC had already reviewed the document. He said the objective was to: evaluate the RST’s contribution to implementing Article IV (regulation of trade in specimens of species included in Appendix-II) of the Convention; assess the impact on the trade and conservation of species selected for review and recommendations; and formulate recommendations into a resolution for the next appropriate CoP. He noted that a working group had been established to conduct the review.  

He stated that two workshops had been held to address these issues. He outlined the recommendations from the first workshop, including that the RST process should: have increased transparency; be shorter and more streamlined; provide clear, concise and informative communications and consultations; contain a standard “menu” of RST recommendations; and clarify the “end points” of the process.

He noted that the second workshop urged making the criteria for species selection more user-friendly. He said that the workshop had also produced a standardized set of recommendations, and amended the process so that it is streamlined, transparent and can take place over two CoP meetings. He provided an overview of the four draft resolutions that had been produced.  

Nomenclature Specialist McGough stated that the AC had adopted the four decisions, with minor amendments and also recommended that the Secretariat produce a Guidance on Formulating Recommendations to each AC and the PC meeting.  

AC Chair Caceres provided an outline of the AC decisions (AC28 Com. 4 (Rev. by Sec.)), noting that while most amendments were editorial, the AC had specifically removed reference to “subject to the availability of funds” for establishing a database tracking system for species, as the AC felt such a database is of crucial importance.  

The Dominican Republic noted its general support for the draft resolutions. Mexico proposed text to improve wording on communication between Parties and the scientific authorities.

Outcome: The PC adopted the recommendations with amendments to the text as described above.

Overview of the Species-Based RST: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the related document (PC22 Doc. 11.2), and participants took note of the report, which requires the Secretariat to report at each PC meeting on the implementation of PC recommendations by concerned range states.  

Species Selected Following CoP16: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced document (PC22 Doc. 11.3). Mexico suggested that the Carnegiea gigantea (saguaro cactus) be eliminated from the review, noting that actual exports are well within the authorized limits. On Bulnesia sarmientoi (holywood), Paraguay noted that preliminary NDFs show that trade is within the authorized limits, underscoring that a traceability system is in place.

A working group, chaired by Nomenclature Specialist McGough, was established to determine which species should be eliminated from the review with respect to the range states, and which should be maintained. The working group met on Tuesday.  

McGough presented the working group recommendations on Friday. PC Chair Clemente suggested that the problems related to illegal exports of B. sarmientoi (holywood) from Bolivia, and assistance sought by Cambodia and Myanmar to carry out field surveys and address illegal trade be included in her report to the SC. Delegates adopted the recommendations.

Outcome: In PC22 Com. 3 (regarding species selected following CoP16), the PC recommends:

  • Bulnesia sarmientoi (holywood) in Argentina and Paraguay should be retained within the review, but B. sarmientoi (holywood) in Bolivia and Brazil should be excluded;
  • Carnegiea gigantea (saguaro cactus) in Mexico and the US should be excluded;
  • Dendrobium chrysotoxum (golden-bow dendrobium) in Lao PDR should be retained, but excluded for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan Province of China, Thailand and Viet Nam;
  • Dendrobium moschatum (musky-smelling dendrobium) in Lao PDR should be retained, but excluded for Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam;
  • Euphorbia abdelkuri in Yemen should be excluded;
  • Euphorbia globosa in South Africa should be excluded;  
  • Euphorbia labatii in Madagascar should be excluded;  
  • Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop) in Bulgaria, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania and Ukraine should be excluded, but retained for Turkey;  
  • Hoodia gordonii in Namibia and South Africa is retained;
  • Nardostachys grandiflora (spikenard) in Nepal is retained, but excluded for Bhutan, China and India;
  • Prunus africana (African cherry) in Cameroon and the DRC is retained, but excluded for Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
  • Pterocarpus santalinus (red sandalwood) in India is retained, but excluded for Sri Lanka; and
  • Taxus cuspidata (Japanese yew) in China, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation is excluded.

The PC also requests the Secretariat to bring to the attention of the SC, the concern that while there is no reported CITES trade in B. sarmientoi emanating from Bolivia, there have been informal reports that some illegal exports might be occurring under the name “guayacán.”  

The PC further requests the Secretariat to review possible means of assistance to countries seeking assistance to carry out field surveys and address illegal trade.

NON-DETRIMENT FINDINGs: Report on NDFs for Pericopsis elata (Afrormosia) in the DRC: On Monday, the DRC introduced the document (PC22 Doc. 12.1), emphasizing export quota challenges related to long delays between cutting and exporting wood and changes in quota calculation methods from 2014 to 2015, and requested assistance to manage 2014 stocks.

Report on NDFs for Bulnesia sarmientoi (Holywood) in Paraguay: On Monday, Paraguay introduced the report (PC22 Doc. 12.2), underscoring precautionary quotas for trade, progress on inventories and weak points for biological data.  

HARVESTING OF AND TRADE IN PRUNUS AFRICANA: On Monday, the EU introduced the report (PC22 Doc. 13), highlighting work conducted in Cameroon, the DRC and Uganda, as well as the need for inventories, harvesting techniques and tracking systems. The EU proposed, and the Africa and North America representatives, and the ITTO supported, an international workshop on Prunus africana (African cherry) to provide guidance for CoP17.

A working group, co-chaired by César Beltetón (Guatemala) and Hélène Perier (EU), was established to deal with matters relating to the NDF reports on P. elata and B. sarmientoi, as well as the harvesting of and trade in P. africana.  

WORKING GROUP ON NDFs AND SPECIES MANAGEMENT REPORTS: The working group met on Tuesday. On Pericopsis elata in the DRC, the working group discussed, inter alia: the need for a database; quotas that differentiate between logs and other specimens to enhance control over export levels; transitional quotas, ability to sell stockpiled lumber and consistency with previous decisions; and the use of recovery rates.

On Bulnesia sarmientoi in Paraguay, the working group addressed, inter alia: the potential publication of an export quota; and whether recommendations should be limited to the management plan since an NDF had not yet been completed and Paraguay was still in the midst of the RST process.  

On Prunus africana, the working group deliberated on, inter alia: the adequacy of on-the-ground monitoring; harvesting in protected areas; the need for current efforts to obtain information on survival after bark harvesting; creating an African species working group; the potential use of plantation production; and the value of holding an international workshop on these matters after CoP17 but before PC23. The recommendations were presented on Friday, where they were adopted with minor amendment.

Outcome:  On Pericopsis elata, the PC (PC22 Com. 4) encourages the DRC to:

  • implement measures presented in their NDF report;  
  • apply caution regarding the use of recovery rates in their NDF;
  • report on progress on their NDF and measures implemented at PC23; and
  • bring the existence of stockpiles to the attention of SC66, as well as difficulties regarding compliance with the decision on the management of nationally established export quotas.  

The recommendations also advise considering whether the following issues require changes to the relevant Resolutions: certain exporting countries establishing annual export quotas based on volumes corresponding to Annual Allowable Cutting permits (valid for more than one year), which may not be consistent with Res. Conf. 14.7 (Rev. CoP15) (management of nationally established export quotas); and that separate export quotas for timber species should be adopted for different commodities (e.g., logs or sawn wood) to enable better monitoring of quantities exported.

On Bulnesia sarmientoi, the PC recommends, inter alia, that:

  • parties and relevant organizations should provide financial and technical assistance to complete the analysis to improve the NDF;
  • Paraguay implement the recommendations in PC Doc. 12.2; and  
  • the Secretariat and Paraguay should resolve the technical arrangements related to the B. sarmientoi export quota.

On Prunus africana, the PC, inter alia:  

  • recognizes the merits of organizing an international workshop on sustainable use of and the control of international trade in P. africana;
  • notes that there may be concerns relating to harvesting of P. africana in protected areas, and that such practices should be treated with caution;  
  • suggests considering the establishment of an intersessional working group on African tree species;
  • recognizes that a reconsideration of management rules might be necessary to ensure that international trade is sustainable;  
  • recognizes that the development of plantations or agroforestry systems might represent a potential means of production, complementary to sustainable bark production from wild sources;  
  • endorses the draft decisions in the Annex to PC22 Doc.13 and forwards them to CoP17 for adoption;  and
  • concludes that the preparation of a draft resolution on sustainable use of and control of international trade in P. africana for CoP17 is premature.

The ToRs for the intersessional working group established include: functioning under the authority of the PC and working primarily through electronic means; seeking to facilitate the circulation of experiences among range states and stakeholders; identifying gaps and weaknesses; examining the processes for annual quotas and reconcile them with processes under CITES; seeking to identify other species that may benefit from listing to CITES Appendices; and concluding its work by 31 March 2016 to prepare for CoP17, where its continuation will be decided.


TIMBER IDENTIFICATION: Development of a Timber Identification Directory for CITES-listed Species: During Wednesday’s plenary, the EU introduced the document summarizing TRAFFIC’s effort to create a timber development directory for CITES-listed species (PC22 Doc. 14.1) to increase identification of species in trade. The EU highlighted consultations with experts and the potential to present the information gathered through the Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN) database on timber tracking. PC Chair Clemente said the GTTN collaboration would help avoid duplication and could include the exchange of samples, which could be broadened to include labs in other regions.

Outcome: The PC noted the document and welcomed the cooperation of the GTTN in developing the timber identification directory for CITES-listed species. The PC also recommended including relevant information from range states in the directory.

Development of a Timber Identification Manual: On Wednesday, the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) introduced the document (PC22 Doc. 14.2 (Rev. 1)) summarizing ongoing work on developing tools and technologies to address illegal timber trade. The ICCWC highlighted, inter alia: the challenges of identifying timber in the field; the transition to forensic tools; the value of data from lab analyses to ensure legal, sustainable and enforceable trade; and the need for the curation of biological materials at national levels, and for a guide covering the whole chain of custody.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) presented annex two of the document, listing proposed draft decisions to improve timber identification of CITES-listed and look-alike species. Key elements included, inter alia:  

  • encouraging parties to create, maintain or expand timber samples as reference materials;
  • directing PC23 to: discuss identification and propose adoption of nomenclature references for each CITES-listed tree species; determine the location of pertinent reference collections; identify Parties interested in identifying, curating and collecting samples; develop guidance for the collection of samples; and support the development of forensic capacities for timber identification; and
  • directing the Secretariat to work with the ICCWC, UNODC and others to support implementation of these measures.  

The US recalled that the CITES Wiki Identification Manual is under review and suggested an exchange of information between groups. SSN highlighted the importance of access to a database and the World Resources Institute (WRI) said the private sector is very interested in verifying what they trade. PC Chair Clemente suggested that UNODC, TRAFFIC, the Secretariat and the Nomenclature Specialist meet informally to address these issues.

On Thursday, the small group reported that additional time and work is needed to further revise the decisions, and suggested a drafting group be formed to submit the revised draft decisions by the end of October so that they can be included in the Chair’s report. The PC agreed.


PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR SPECIMENS OF CITES-LISTED SPECIES: The Secretariat presented document PC22 Doc. 16 on Thursday, noting that IUCN was commissioned to produce a guide on the proper use of source codes, which is annexed to the document (PC22 Doc. 16, Annexes 1, 2 and 3). He added that AC28 discussed the draft guidance and recommended that a new, updated version be prepared, taking into account its recommendations.

IUCN stressed the complexity of source codes, noting that inconsistencies were uncovered during the review of production systems of all taxa, decisions, definitions and guidance notification. He added that several source codes create confusion and may need further review.

AC Chair Caceres stressed the complexity of the issue, noting it touches on the mandate of the SC. She highlighted challenging areas identified by the AC, included in document AC28 Com. 7, namely that the guidance, inter alia: should provide a comprehensive reference to resolutions; should not introduce new terms; could include detailed advice on how to interpret resolutions on codes and examples on production systems; and could include case studies on species or types of production systems. She underscored that a new version of the guidance should be prepared, taking into account AC and PC comments and additional input by parties.

Germany said that work done is helpful but the decision path may need revision. The US noted that the interpretation of definitions is difficult due to conflicting guidance in the resolutions and supported a guide on the appropriate use of source codes. PC Chair Clemente proposed, and delegates agreed, to adopt the suggestions made by the AC, and establish a small group to work on specific notes for plants, including artificial propagation and plantations.

On Friday, the alternate representative for North America presented the working group’s outcome.  

Outcomes: On a decision for CoP17, the PC, inter alia:  

  • encourages parties to create or expand and maintain collections of timber samples as reference material;  
  • directs PC23 to discuss, inter alia, how to: identify and propose the adoption of nomenclature references for each species; determine locations of pertinent reference collections; identify parties interested in identifying, collecting and curating samples; develop guidance for sample collection; and support parties to develop forensic capacities for timber identification;  
  • notes that the decision path for source codes does not recognize that non-registered nurseries may continue exporting artificially propagated specimens of Appendix-I species using standard procedures for export permits, or address definitions for artificially propagated agarwood; and
  • notes the need for reference consistency with Res. Conf. 11.11 (exemptions for artificial propagation).


TREES: Progress Report on the ITTO-CITES Programme for CITES-Listed Tree Species: On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced document PC22 Doc. 17.1, noting that the collaborative programme with the ITTO has led to improved forest management of CITES-listed tree species, cooperation in research, integrated knowledge on sustainable forest management and increased capacities. She outlined lessons learned, including the need to engage all stakeholders, and ensure clear communication with CITES authorities and business. She stated that the number of countries involved has increased, and that there are new lines of action should funding become available.

The ITTO Secretariat highlighted the increasing focus on tree species, particularly those in tropical areas, on the CITES agenda. He said that the next phase of the programme is dependent on resources, but that efforts are being made to obtain additional funds.  

Indonesia welcomed the programme, noting that most associated activities in Indonesia had been completed, and expressed hope that more funding is obtained to complete the remaining activities on the agenda. The EU lauded progress, noted that they are considering funding phase three, of the ITTO-CITES Programme and invited other parties to consider donating to the programme. He suggested that phase three should focus on, inter alia, implementing core CITES requirements like NDFs and traceability. The DRC said that the programme has allowed for NDFs on Pericopsis elata and Prunus africana.

The PC noted the report.  

Report of the Working Group on Neotropical Tree Species: On Thursday, Guatemala introduced the report of the Working Group on Neotropical Tree Species (PC22 Doc. 17.2) on the status of Dalbergia spp. in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. He said that information received from range states included, inter alia: the presence or absence and status of Dalbergia spp.; use of common names; identification challenges; current legislation; export volumes; seizures of illegal shipments; research projects; and shipment destinations. SSN urged immediate attention to the increase in illegal shipments. China said it would collaborate with range states to advance sustainable use of the species. The representatives from Central and South America and the Caribbean, and from North America, and others, encouraged range states to continue collecting data.  

Outcome: The Working Group on Neotropical Tree Species will continue its task with the same ToRs.

Malagasy Ebonies (Diospyros spp.) and Malagasy Rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.): On Monday, the Secretariat reported on progress under the Action Plan for Malagasy ebonies (Diospyros spp.) and Malagasy rosewoods (Dalbergia spp.) (PC22 Doc. 17.3.1). She said highlights included, inter alia: assisting Madagascar in preparing a stockpile audit and sustainable use plan; the potential for outside consultants to assist with timber marking and traceability technologies, and for internationally recognized organizations to assist with marking, inventory and securing the stockpile; ITTO funding for a global project to help address timber identification problems for Dalbergia spp.; and capacity building via planned workshops on NDFs for these genera.  

The Secretariat expressed concern about missing report sections for action items four and five on embargo and inventory stockpiles. The ITTO said significant delays in identification efforts occurred due to difficulties in receiving required import and export permits in a timely manner.

Madagascar noted its complete country report would be forthcoming shortly and highlighted other progress on the Action Plan, including: a project to assess the health and population status of 37 species, noting that most have no individuals for regeneration; capacity-building workshops on NDFs and to assess scientific findings on species of precious woods; recommendations to prioritize the assessment of standing stocks and research on in situ and ex situ multiplication of species; progress on phylogeny and taxonomic review; and the establishment of a collection of reference materials and coordination of specimen exchanges.  

The PC established a working group, co-chaired by the representative for Africa, Beatrice Khayota (Kenya), and Aro Vonjy Ramarosandratana (Madagascar), to: review the report on implementation of the Action Plan and provide relevant advice; and provide advice on an appropriate form of guidance to enable Madagascar to report on progress at CoP17.  

The working group met on Wednesday and addressed, inter alia: technical work on identification protocols; inventory work to develop NDFs; circulation of reference materials to enable laboratories and international teams to develop validated methods; involvement of the management authority; work on DNA extraction; timeframe for upcoming work with a focus on species that face a rapid extinction rate, including for possible inclusion on Appendix-I; publication of results of seized timber assessments; and the urgency of technical assistance needed for capacity building in Madagascar.  

The outcomes of the working group were presented on Friday. WRI suggested deleting “should” and highlighted the need to publicize finished studies on the assessment of options for the disposal of stockpiles. PC Chair Clemente and the Secretariat stressed that this goes beyond the authority of the PC and should be referred to the SC.  

In the same spirit, PC Chair Clemente suggested, and delegates agreed, to replace recommendations regarding the recruitment of an independent consultant to assist with the stockpiles assessment and audits, as well as the publication of results of their status and inventory, with language stating that the PC encourages Madagascar to follow the Secretariat’s recommendation in PC22 Doc. 17.3.1 (report of the Secretariat on Diospyros spp. and Dalbergia spp.). With these, and a few minor editorial amendments, the document was adopted.

Outcome: In PC22 Com. 6, with regard to the format for reporting to CoP17, the PC recommends:

  • indicating the various stages of implementation;
  • highlighting the limitations and problems encountered in implementing the Action Plan;
  • highlighting work done on any species facing a high risk of disappearing, which might warrant inclusion in Appendix-I; and
  • reviewing the formats of other similar reports, such as those that may be available from the CITES Secretariat.
  • On implementing the Action Plan, the PC, inter alia:
  • expresses its commitment to continue working with Madagascar, but expresses strong concern that no information has as yet been provided on the status of implementation of other elements of the Action Plan;
  • recommends that Madagascar should conclude the process to become a full ITTO member, as soon as possible, to benefit from financial support in making NDFs and for other areas of research related to the timber trade;
  • encourages the Madagascar Management Authority to become fully involved in the implementation of the Action Plan;
  • notes the urgent need for technical assistance and capacity building for Madagascar;
  • acknowledges the need for funding to carry out the work to validate the ecological status of Dalbergia spp. and Diospyros spp. by the Specialist Group of Malagasy Plants;
  • encourages Madagascar to help improve the circulation of reference material (the reference samples being exported to laboratories outside Madagascar do not fall under the annotation and therefore are not subject to CITES control), noting that Madagascar clarified the need to work in collaboration with a local institution when doing research with material from Madagascar;   
  • notes the need expressed for additional efforts in DNA work, in particular when sampling from finished products like furniture, and that a variety of wood identification methods, in addition to DNA-based methods, may be applicable to Madagascar;
  • acknowledges the concerns expressed by Madagascar that identification methods need to be simple and user-friendly within the country;
  • notes the concern expressed by the ITTO regarding the delay in establishing a reference library of Dalbergia spp. and Diospyros spp. under the ITTO-CITES Programme; and
  • expresses concern regarding the lack of data on the amount of exports, seizures and stocks in the forests.

East African Sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata): On Thursday, the representative for Africa introduced document PC22 Doc. 17.4, and reported on, inter alia: support for local communities on developing NDFs; seizures of illegally harvested sandalwood from Kenya and Rwanda; development of regulations in Kenya; forestry guidelines for growing sandalwood; use of DNA barcoding; the need for a range states consultative meeting as well as assistance and support for an action plan and NDF assessments; and the possibility of holding back-to-back meetings on O. lanceolata (East African sandalwood) and Prunus africana (African cherry). The representative for Oceania asked if O. lanceolata might be illegally traded as Santalum spp., which Uganda said had occurred. TRAFFIC described a planned “flagship” project with Tanzania for a detailed study and workshop on the sustainable harvest and trade of O. lanceolata.  

Agarwood-producing Taxa (Aquilaria spp. and Gyrinops spp.): Report of the Secretariat: On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the report (PC22 Doc. 17.5.1 (Rev. 1)), noting that, in collaboration with the ITTO, it had organized a workshop on agarwood taxa production. She noted the aim of the workshop was to further the management and conservation of the species, strengthen agarwood NDFs, and improve the network of communications. She said results included draft decisions for submission to CoP17.  

The Asia representative and Indonesia supported the draft decisions.  

The US stated that follow up to the workshop should be open to consumer countries. Regarding the draft decision, supported by the EU, she stated that while it is appropriate to seek funding, it is not appropriate to request the ITTO-CITES Programme to provide technical support.

The Oceania representative noted that Australia has agarwood plantations that are nearing harvest level, and thus will become a producer, suggesting that Australia be included in future workshops.

The Secretariat noted that as it was the first workshop held, the decision was taken to meet “internally” and progress from there. She also stated that, on the draft decisions, the idea was that the range states themselves would seek funding.  

The ITTO Secretariat suggested wording to state that parties may seek funding from multiple sources, including the ITTO-CITES Programme. TRAFFIC proposed text referring to illegal harvest and trade as opposed to illegal logging and poaching.  

PC Chair Clemente suggested forming a small group to find agreeable wording. Following informal consultations, the small group reported that wording had been agreed on, which will be forwarded to the Secretariat.

Report of the working group on production systems of tree species, plantations and definitions of artificial propagation: On Thursday, Guatemala introduced PC22 Doc. 17.5.2, and provided an oral report on questionnaire results regarding production systems for CITES-listed tree species. Differences among countries included, inter alia: definitions of a plantation; structure (monospecific vs. mixed); national support for and regulation of plantations, with some countries only regulating in protected areas; registration requirements; management structure (community vs. private); existence of management plans; national coding systems; and volume exported by product, with Brazil and Peru reporting 100% export of CITES-listed species from plantations.   

Outcome: The PC recommends, inter alia: preparing an interim report; and refreshing Decision 16.156 (directing the PC to consider production systems, assess definitions of artificial propagation and report back at CoP17) so that a written report can be submitted at a future CoP.

Assessment of the implementation of Resolution Conf. 16.10: On Thursday, the alternate representative of Asia, Co-Chair of the Working Group on timber species, medicinal plants and agarwood-producing species, presented the relevant document (PC22 Doc. 17.5.3). She highlighted the organization of a side event during the CITES-ITTO Asian Regional Workshop on the Management of Wild and Planted Agarwood Taxa, held in January 2015 in India, to gather feedback in order to revise the Glossary of Agarwood Products. The updated glossary is annexed to the document.

The US and the UK suggested continuing work to update and revise the glossary. The US added that the glossary, according to Decision 16.155, should be used for the production of an identification manual for agarwood products.

PC Chair Clemente proposed, and delegates agreed, that the PC take note of the updated version of the glossary and the decision be updated to allow for the production of the identification manual. The Secretariat will also send a notification for input to further revise the glossary.

Implementation of the Convention for Dalbergia spp.: On Monday, the alternate Europe representative introduced the document on implementation of the Convention for Dalbergia spp. (PC22 Doc. 17.6), which is the result of consultations with regional parties. On taxonomy, he said key points included the need to continue compiling information on unnamed species in herbaria and collections, and to collect data to assess conservation status and threat level.  

On trade names, he noted suggestions on creating a compilation of common names because enforcement and tracking efforts are hampered by the use of common names for different species or even genera. On identification, he emphasized the need for: increased voucher samples to make NDFs; increased experts in several countries; improved coordination to avoid duplication of work; and capacity building for identification.  

On making NDFs, he noted the need for a focus at the species level, correct use of scientific names, and more engagement with the timber trade. On annotations, he suggested a preliminary trade study to assess production of Dalbergia spp. worldwide. On enforcement, he stated that critical issues included easily interpreted listings and annotations, and access to robust forensic identification services. He provided an overview of suggested actions, including harmonized system tariff codes, analysis of trade patterns, identification training and a compilation of stockpiles.  

The US noted its recent review of the use of common names for Aniba rosaeodora (Brazilian rosewood or rosewood tree) and Dalbergia nigra (Bahia rosewood or Brazilian rosewood) in cosmetics and fragrances. Mexico highlighted information gaps for NDFs and Guatemala said records of illegal trade reveal that populations are declining and new species are not listed in the appendices. The North America representative suggested listing the whole genus for the Americas, noting the need for better traceability.

In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed the concept of not having annotations for Dalbergia spp. to address secondary processed products being traded without CITES documents to circumvent current annotations. The US noted that no annotations would mean all parts and derivatives are covered. Highlighting the large amount of finished products being shipped using airports, the Central and South America and the Caribbean representative said no annotations would be easier for customs. Thailand noted the burden of CITES enforcement is on parties. France said the PC is a scientific committee and as such does not deal with management issues, and that no annotations to exclude finished products would require issuing millions of permits. He noted that pre-Convention products would still be subject to permits, similar to ivory objects dating back to the 18th century.  

The PC noted the document.

EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF CITES TIMBER SUBJECT TO NATIONAL DECISIONS: PC Chair Clemente presented, on Thursday, document PC22 Doc. 18 on the issue of export permits issued under court orders for specimens of tree species included in Appendix-II. She proposed an amendment to the Resolution on the implementation of the Convention for timber species, which states that the exporting parties should highlight the importance of not proceeding with any exports that lack evidence of the legal origin of the wood or an NDF, for consideration by CoP17. She said it also includes that importing countries should reject shipments of wood, wood parts and derivatives of timber species accompanied by export permits issued under court order, unless they can confirm that an NDF has been made by the Scientific Authority of the country of origin.

SSN expressed concern about the growing number of permits issued by court order, and, supported by France, stressed that this is often not indicated on the permits so the importing country has no related information.

Portugal, the Central and South America and the Caribbean representative, on behalf of Peru, and the North America representative supported the proposed amendment. The North America representative noted that this is not applicable to forestry only, suggesting a similar amendment on the Resolution on permits and certificates. PC Chair Clemente, supported by the US and France, said that since this is a problem that also affects animals, it should be referred to the SC. The Europe representative noted that, in addition to trees, other taxa should be included.

The Center for International Environmental Law suggested reference to acquisition findings by the relevant management authority, as required by Article IV of the Convention (Regulation of Trade in Specimens of Species included in Appendix-II). The EU offered language stating that the exporting Parties should not issue export permits without evidence of legal origin and of an NDF, to which the North America representative added reference to Convention Articles III (Regulation of Trade in Specimens of Species included in Appendix-I) and IV, since Appendix-III listings do not require an NDF.

The Asia representative offered compromise language to help address the issue. A small drafting group was established to take into account the discussions and report to plenary.

Reporting back, the US offered compromise language, which addressed the considerations stated above to which the PC agreed.

TRADE IN ARTIFICIALLY PROPAGATED PLANTS: On Friday, the North America alternate representative, Co-Chair of the working group on reporting trade in artificially propagated plants, introduced document PC22 Doc. 19, highlighting, inter alia, that: the data entry associated with species-level data from permits used as the basis for the annual reports creates a significant workload; reporting at the species level may not be useful to detect shifts from wild to artificially propagated sources for species already in trade; and detailed reporting at the lowest taxonomic level would be particularly useful for taxa emerging in trade. She concluded by outlining the working group’s recommendation that parties continue to report trade in artificially propagated Appendix-II plants at the species level, taking into account capacities for data entry and consideration of conservation priorities.

The US and the North America representative supported the recommendation. The US added that future discussions should further consider the issue of trade volume, and that language from the recommendation should be included in the “Guidelines for the Preparation and Submission of CITES Annual Reports.” She specifically suggested including, under the subsection entitled “Regarding plants,” that “parties should report trade of artificially propagated Appendix-II plants at the species level where reasonable, taking into account their data entry capacity and in consideration of conservation priorities, such as the value of species-level reporting for new species in trade.”

PC22 took note of the document.

PERIODIC REVIEW OF SPECIES INCLUDED IN APPENDICES I AND II: Overview of Species Under Review: On Monday, Nomenclature Specialist McGough presented document PC22 Doc. 20.1 (Rev. 1), noting that the two annexes present an overview of the periodic review of appendices for the period between CoP13 and CoP15, and between CoP15 and CoP17, respectively. Mexico noted that the review for Tillandsia mauryana (Maury’s Tillandsia) has been completed. The PC agreed to reflect this in the annex to the document.  

Report of the Intersessional Working Group: PC Vice-Chair and North America representative Hesiquio Benítez, and AC Chair Caceres, Co-Chairs of the intersessional working group, presented document PC22 Doc. 20.2. AC Chair Caceres noted that the document was discussed during AC28 and highlighted amendments incorporated in document AC28 Com. 3 (Rev. by Sec.), including that: the AC or PC may evaluate reviews undertaken independently by Parties and submitted for Committee consideration; and in instances where range states do not express a willingness to submit a proposal to the CoP for a change in the CITES listing status of the species reviewed, following a recommendation from the Committees, the Secretariat may request the Depository Government to submit it and include the comments of the range states in the supporting statement.

The PC agreed with the work of the AC on this resolution with minor amendments.

Species Review: On Monday, Madagascar presented the document on the periodic review of Didieraceae, Aloe spp. and Euphorbia spp. (PC22 Doc. 20.3.1). The North America representative asked for clarifications on whether changes in the listing status should occur. Madagascar responded that they might consider removing Didieraceae from Appendix-II, as there is no recorded trade from Madagascar since 2005. The Europe representative said that there is some trade in Europe, including underground trade, calling for a better assessment of the situation at the international level.

Madagascar presented the document on the periodic review of Pachypodium brevicaule (PC22 Doc. 20.3.2 (Rev. 1)), underlining that while there was a resurgence in trade in Pachypodium spp. seeds, the main threat is habitat loss, due to land conversion and other uses, including in its only protected area.

The US and Mexico introduced the document on the periodic review of Sclerocactus spp. (PC22 Doc. 20.3.3 (Rev. 1)). The US, inter alia, recommended the transfer of seven US endemic Sclerocactus taxa from Appendix-II to Appendix-I, and identified nomenclature changes since the 1999 publication of the CITES Cactaceae Checklist that need further consideration. Mexico said that the four taxa reviewed are properly listed and underscored that both proposals on nomenclature issues should be reviewed. The Europe representative highlighted the issue of listing sub-species in the appendices, as they are often very difficult to identify. The US responded that any draft proposal would be at the species level.

A working group, chaired by PC Vice-Chair Benítez, was established, and tasked with determining, where appropriate, whether to transfer a taxon from one appendix to another, or delete a taxon from the Appendices.

WORKING GROUP ON THE PERIODIC REVIEW OF SPECIES INCLUDED IN APPENDICES I AND II: The working group met on Tuesday and the recommendations were adopted on Friday. Regarding the 11 species of Didieraceae (didiereas), the working group recognized existing pressure from international trade and decided to retain the Appendix-II listing. Current listings were also retained for Aloe spp. and Euphorbia spp. On the newly discovered species Pachypodium enigmaticum, the working group agreed to: convey the case to the Nomenclature Specialist; and request Madagascar to check whether it fulfils the criteria for an Appendix-I listing. The working group further decided to request additional information from Madagascar on whether the national regulation allowing tourists to export up to five specimens is carried out according to CITES rules. On Sclerocactus spp., the working group decided to: transfer Sclerocactus blainei, Sclerocactus cloverae and Sclerocactus sileri from Appendix-II to Appendix-I; and request the Nomenclature Specialist to review taxonomic issues.

The North America representative presented document PC Com. 2 on Friday. PC Chair Clemente noted the elimination of species from the periodic review process in the absence of volunteers, with the North America representative saying that a related provision is included in the Resolution. SSN highlighted the request to the Secretariat to seek clarification from Madagascar concerning a policy, which apparently allows tourists to export up to five specimens of wild flora, irrespective of CITES-listing, without permits or certificates, noting that this provision in the Malagasy forestry law undermines the Convention’s provisions.

PC Chair Clemente suggested that the request to the Secretariat on Madagascar be part of her report to the SC and delegates adopted the document with editorial changes on species names.

Outcome: In the recommendation (PC Com. 2), on the overview of species under review, for species to be reconsidered between CoP15 and CoP17, the PC:

  • requests that the Secretariat send a letter to the range States of Dioscorea deltoidea and Hedychium philippinense (white garland-lily), to ask whether there is a volunteer willing to undertake the periodic review of each species; and
  • on Tillandsia kammii, notes that the review is ongoing with assistance from the representative of Central and South America and the Caribbean; however, due to a lack of volunteers to undertake the review, and in consultation with the representative, the species is proposed to be eliminated from the periodic review process.

Regarding species to be reviewed between CoP13 and CoP15, the PC recommends deleting:

  • Balmea stormiae (ayuque) from the list of species to be reviewed; and
  • Tillandsia mauryana from Appendix-II.

Regarding the periodic review of Didieraceae, Aloe spp. and Euphorbia spp., the PC recommends retaining:

  • 11 species of Didieraceae in Appendix-II;
  • 17 species of Aloe spp. in Appendix-I; and
  • 10 species of Euphorbia spp. in Appendix-I.

Regarding the periodic review of Pachypodium brevicaule, the PC recommends that it be retained in Appendix-II. Additionally, regarding the newly discovered species Pachypodium enigmaticum (Pavelka, Prokes, V.Vlk, Lavranos), the PC:

  • asks the Nomenclature Specialist to review the taxon and include it in the standard reference as appropriate;
  • requests the Secretariat, on the basis of the Nomenclature Specialist’s findings, to update the CITES Checklist of Species and the Species+ database in order to include this new species; and
  • suggests Madagascar assess whether the species meets the criteria for inclusion in Appendix-I.

Regarding Madagascar’s implementation of CITES listings for plant species, the PC requests the Secretariat to seek clarification from Madagascar concerning a policy which apparently allows tourists to export (up to) five specimens of CITES-listed plants without CITES permits or certificates.

Regarding the periodic review of Sclerocactus spp., the PC:

  • takes note of the findings regarding the seven taxa of Sclerocactus spp. endemic to the US, as specified in Table 1 of document PC22 Doc. 20.3.3 (Rev. 1);
  • endorses the recommendation to maintain all taxa listed in Table 3 of document PC22 Doc. 20.3.3 (Rev. 1) as currently listed in the appendices;
  • endorses the transfer of S. blanei, S. cloverae and S. sileri from Appendix-II to Appendix-I, as described in document PC22 Doc. 22.5; and
  • regarding taxonomy issues and the updating of the CITES Cactaceae Checklist, asks the Nomenclature Specialist to, with the assistance of specialists appointed both by Mexico and the US, address the taxonomic issues identified in the document.

STANDARD NOMENCLATURE: Report of the Specialist on Botanical Nomenclature: On Monday, Nomenclature Specialist McGough presented document PC22 Doc. 21.1, in which the PC is asked to convene a nomenclature working group to, inter alia: ensure that the parties have scientifically valid, accessible, up-to-date and practical standard references for orchid species being traded; review progress on the Cactus Checklist; note progress on the checklist for Dalbergia spp. and facilitate the checklist for Diospyros spp.; consider the document on Aloe spp. nomenclature; and review the update on the taxonomic status of Platymiscium pleiostachyum.

Taxonomic Problems with Nardostachys and Its Potential Implications for Trade Data and Control: On Monday, Austria presented document PC22 Doc. 21.2 on taxonomic problems with Nardostachys, underscoring that taxonomic ambiguities still exist and recommending that the checklists be updated accordingly, considering the inclusion of the synonym Nardostachys jatamansi (D.Don) DC. China affirmed the taxonomic problems and suggested additional amendments.

Revised Nomenclature for Aloe spp.: On Monday, South Africa presented document PC22 Doc. 21.3 on revised nomenclature for Aloe spp., noting that: Aloe welwitschii, Aloe subspicata, Aloe jeppeae and Aloe barendii should not be included in the appendices; and, with support from the Europe representative, that name changes relating to Aloidendron, Aloiampelos and Kumara plicatilis should be indicated as synonyms in the standard reference for Aloe spp. and on the Checklist of CITES Species.

Revised Nomenclature for Two Species of Malagasy Palms (Arecaceae): On Tuesday, the US presented document PC22 Doc. 21.4, noting that the scientific names of the species Chrysalidocarpus decipiens (butterfly palm) and Neodypsis decaryi (triangle palm), both endemic in Madagascar, were changed 20 years ago to Dypsis decipiens and Dypsis decaryi, respectively. She underlined that these names are not included as synonyms in the CITES appendices.  

A working group was established to address all nomenclature issues.

Working Group on Nomenclature: The working group, which met on Wednesday and was chaired by Nomenclature Specialist McGough, discussed: the need for customs officials to have up-to-date information on orchids, especially for species commonly in trade, such as slipper orchids; and the potential to publish data subsets as PDF documents for adoption at CoP17.   

Outcome: In PC Com. 7, the PC recommends that on the periodic review of Sclerocactus spp., the Nomenclature Specialist will review the nomenclatural issues related to S. erectocentrus and S. johnsonii, intersessionally.

On the report of the specialist on botanical nomenclature, the PC:   

  • recommends that the Nomenclature Specialist continues to work with major botanical institutions to access databases that may provide datasets that can form the basis of CITES standard references for orchids;
  • encourages Parties to contact the Nomenclature Specialist with details of experts to liaise with the editor of the Cactus Checklist and provide comments on the sample of the checklist provided in document PC22 Inf. 3;
  • encourages Parties to review CITES and Cycads: Checklist 2013 included as an annex in the publication CITES and Cycads a user’s guide and send comments to the Nomenclature Specialist;
  • recommends that the Nomenclature Specialist continues to: work to ensure that checklists for Madagascan species of Dalbergia and, if possible, Diospyros be made available for adoption at CoP17; work with South Africa, to ensure that the new names introduced by the revised nomenclature of Aloe spp. be indicated in the UNEP-WCMC Checklist and Species+, with the names of those new taxa not covered by CITES being clearly indicated; and review the status of Platymiscium pleiostachyum; and
  • recommends that it be noted that the monotypic genus Chigua will continue to be listed as Zamia restrepoi on CITES Appendix I if the revised Cycad Checklist is adopted at CoP17.

On the taxonomic problems with Nardostachys and its potential implications for trade data and content, the PC recommends that the names Nardostachys jatamsi (D. Don) DC. and Nardostachys chinensis Batalin be included in Species+ and the UNEP-WCMC Checklist of CITES Species as synonyms of Nardostachys grandiflora DC and this be formally noted in the Nomenclature report to CoP17.

On the revised nomenclature for two species of Malagasy palms (Arecacae), the PC recommends that:  

the Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar be adopted as the standard reference for the palms currently listed as Chrysalidocarpus decipiens and Neodypsis decaryi; and

the PC Nomenclature Specialist prepare the Nomenclature Report to CoP17 in close cooperation with the AC Nomenclature Specialist.

PROPOSALS FOR POSSIBLE CONSIDERATION AT CoP17: Amendment of the Annotation for Appendix-II Orchids to Exempt Finished Products Packaged and Ready for Retail Trade which Contain Components of Appendix-II Orchids: Switzerland presented the relevant documents (PC22 Doc. 22.1 and 22.1 Annex 1) on Tuesday stressing, among other things, that: 39 species of the Orchidaceae family are identified as possibly being present in European commerce through a “quick scan” of European products containing Orchidaceae; and while annotations for some CITES Appendix-II species specifically exempt finished products packaged and ready for retail trade, there is no such annotation for Orchidaceae. Switzerland, supported by the Republic of Korea, requested establishing an intersessional working group on the potential risks and/or benefits of an exemption for orchid components, particularly with regard to wild-collected specimens.

The US, supported by the UK, called for an evaluation of finished products on Orchidaceae spp., as well as engaging the SC on deliberations. Mexico noted that the family contains thousands of species, stressing that it would be premature to propose an amendment and calling for clear ToRs for the intersessional working group. Germany underscored undocumented trade and stressed that the working group to be established should have an advisory role to the Working Group on Annotations, which reports to the SC. IUCN suggested that a small regional workshop discuss sustainable trade on orchids. TRAFFIC called for a careful analysis of trade data.

A small group was formed, co-chaired by Ursula Moser (Switzerland) and North America representative Benítez, and met on Tuesday evening to draft the ToRs for the intersessional working group.  

On Thursday evening, Benítez presented document PC22 Com. 1, which includes the composition of and ToRs for the intersessional working group on the exemption of finished products of orchids from CITES. The document was adopted.

The Secretariat noted that all intersessional working groups are expected to conclude their work by the subsequent CoP and then be reinstated, and suggested that language be added to reflect that CoP17 will review the outcomes of the work undertaken by the working group and evaluate the need for its continuation. Delegates agreed.  

The North America alternate representative Adrianne Sinclair and Switzerland were named as co-chairs of the intersessional working group.

Outcome: In PC22 Com. 1, the PC adopts the following mandate for the intersessional working group on the exemption of trade in finished products packaged and ready for retail containing components of Appendix-II listed orchids from CITES.  

On the composition of the intersessional working group, the Secretariat will be asked to prepare and distribute a Notification to the Parties seeking additional expressions of interest to participate in the intersessional working group. The Notification should also ask parties to communicate with relevant non-governmental organizations and industries to identify additional working group members from these stakeholders. The Parties will communicate the names and contact information of these additional members to the working group co-chairs.

On the ToRs for the intersessional working group, the group will develop a questionnaire to seek information on the trade in orchid parts and derivatives in consideration of the potential conservation impact of exempting orchid products from CITES controls. The questionnaire will ask parties to provide available information on:  

  • the trade in orchid products from source to final product;  
  • how NDFs are made;  
  • traceability along the trade chain;  
  • trade reporting;  
  • information on orchid parts and derivatives used in products;  
  • sectors involved; and
  • conservation concerns for wild populations.

The questionnaire will be transmitted to the parties and emphasize the importance of responses from range states, with a sufficient deadline for responding.  

Subject to the availability of funding, the intersessional working group may also consider actions to enable a full analysis of the potential conservation impact of orchid exemptions, including developing case studies on key orchid species identified in trade as finished products or a study on trade data sources.

Based on the information obtained, the intersessional working group will analyze the risk of trade in orchid products to conservation and provide its conclusions. The group will also: consider and highlight knowledge gaps of the orchid species in trade; consider identification, nomenclature and distributional information gaps; and communicate them to the wider orchid research community and traders.

The working group will conduct its work via electronic means and report its findings to PC23 and PC24, as appropriate, with the request that they report to the SC, and inform the SC Working Group on Annotations.             

Assessment of Beaucarnea recurvata Based on the Criteria of Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. Cop16) for Amending Appendices I and II: Mexico introduced this agenda item on Thursday (PC22 Doc. 22.2), noting that Beaucarnea recurvata (elephant’s foot) met the criteria for listing in CITES Appendix-II. She also urged changing its category of risk to extinction, and noted the need to address information gaps. She further explained that the Mexican Scientific Authority is conducting a project to assess the status of the wild populations. She said that live specimens of B. recurvata are mostly traded, and that due to a high demand for international trade combined with the fact that it is mostly wild in origin, regulating trade is required. Italy, with SSN and the US, supported this proposal.

Outcome: The PC agreed that the resolution should be submitted to CoP17.

Amendment of the Annotation to the Listing of Dalbergia cochinchinensis Included in Appendix-II: On Thursday, Thailand proposed amending the annotation for Dalbergia cochinchinensis by replacing annotation five with annotation four to address parts and derivatives not currently regulated (PC22 Doc. 22.3). The EIA, Canada, the US, Global Eye, WWF and others supported the proposed amendment. China stressed the importance of scientific data and analysis. The Asia representative and Germany questioned whether the annotation was appropriate, noting enforcement implications, and, with SSN, but opposed by the EU and the North America representative, suggested the amendment issue falls under the mandate of the Working Group on Annotations.

 Outcome: The PC agreed that Thailand should submit the proposed amendment to CoP17.

Risk Assessment for the Tree Species of the Genus Dalbergia in Mexico: On Thursday, Mexico presented the relevant document (PC22 Doc. 22.4), highlighting the organization of a workshop to address identification difficulties, as well as a lack of information needed to prepare NDFs. The main findings include that: out of 20 native species of Dalbergia spp. in Mexico, six are endemic and only two are listed in Mexico’s endangered species list; and 15 species qualify as timber species, of which nine qualify as “endangered,” four as “threatened” and one “in need of special protection.” Furthermore, as no reliable method exists to identify at an intra-species level the wood from specimens of Dalbergia spp., Mexico invited the PC to develop recommendations on the appropriateness of listing the thirteen remaining Mexican timber species in Appendix-II, as well as other timber species of Dalbergia spp., in accordance with the Resolution on the listing of look-alike species.

The EU and SSN welcomed the call to develop recommendations on listing additional Dalbergia species on Appendix-II for consideration at CoP17, with the SSN adding that identification problems are not exclusive to Mexico.

PC Chair Clemente suggested, and delegates agreed, to encourage Mexico to propose the appropriate listing in CoP17 and recommend to other range states of the genus to submit listing proposals.

Amendment Proposal for Sclerocactus spp.: On Thursday, the US presented document PC22 Doc. 22.5, noting that, following consultations, they decided to propose uplisting three endemic species, namely Sclerocactus blainei, Sclerocactus cloverae and Sclerocactus sileri from Appendix-II to Appendix-I. She said that the three species meet the criteria for listing in Appendix-I, and noted that the nomenclature has changed since the original listing.

The North America representative supported the proposal and PC Chair Clemente suggested, and the PC agreed, to encourage the US to submit the proposal at CoP17.

Other Amendment Proposal Issues: On Wednesday, Senegal reported its intention to list all populations of Pterocarpus erinaceus (vène or palissandre of Senegal) for inclusion in Appendix-III, highlighting: dramatic increases in trade, large-scale smuggling along the Senegalese border, evidence of illegal harvest and unsustainable utilization within the region, and concern by and communication with other countries in the region. Representatives from Africa and from Central and South America and the Caribbean expressed support. China said it will issue import permits as required. SSN noted the draft document included a proposal for listing under Appendix-II and the PC encouraged Senegal to pursue listing in Appendix-II.  

Brazil reported its intent to list Cedrela fissilis (Argentine cedar) and C. lilloi (cedro) in Appendix-III, noting challenges with field identification and many hybrids in forests. Regarding potentially listing the whole genus in Appendix-II, Brazil said those discussions had been taking place for a long time and the Secretariat observed that Brazil intended to have all Cedrela in Appendix-III as a starting point. The alternate member for Europe noted that legislation passed by Brazil in 2014 prohibits export of timber unless from a plantation for these and other species. Noting it also has C. fissilis and certain look-alikes, Paraguay said it will need to look at trade levels. The PC encouraged Brazil to consider preparing a proposal for listing under Appendix-II for inclusion at a future CoP.


The regional reports were addressed during Friday’s plenary session, where the PC took note of them. The Africa representative presented the region’s report (PC22 Doc. 23.1), highlighting, inter alia, efforts and achievements in the region towards achieving CITES objectives. The Central and South America and the Caribbean representative presented the region’s report (PC22 Doc. 23.3), underscoring implementation challenges and achievements in the region.

The Europe representative presented the region’s report (PC22 Doc. 23.4 (Rev. 1)). He highlighted the European Regional CITES Plants Meeting, held in Wageningen, the Netherlands, noting its acknowledgements and recommendations. The Asia representative emphasized training on timber identification and wildlife crime, new legislation and e-permitting systems, and research on NDFs (PC22 Doc. 23.2).  

The North America representative highlighted progress on making NDFs, capacity-building activities, and new systems for traceability of timber (PC22 Doc. 23.5). The Oceania representative noted that half a day was devoted to CITES issues at the Pacific Island Species Forum, including adaptation of the nine-step NDF process for sharks and rays (PC22 Doc. 23.6).


TIME AND VENUE OF PC23: The PC agreed to hold PC23 and PC24 in Paraguay and Madagascar, respectively. PC23 is tentatively scheduled for 2017.

CLOSING REMARKS: An emotional closing plenary took place on Friday, due to the last term in office of PC Chair Margarita Clemente, who has chaired the PC since 1997, as well as the departure of PC Vice-Chair and North America representative Hesiquio Benítez.

Many participants, including representatives of Central and South America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, the alternate representative for North America, the representative for Europe, Nomenclature Specialist McGough, Spain, Canada, the US, Mexico, Indonesia, Guatemala, Georgia, the Secretariat, SSN and WWF expressed gratitude for their contribution and guidance.

PC Chair Clemente closed the meeting at 5:45 pm.


From the outset, participants at the 22nd session of the Plants Committee (PC22) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were faced with a packed agenda and were constantly reminded of the need to work steadily and diligently throughout the week in order to complete their work so that substantial outcomes could be forwarded to the Standing Committee (SC) and to the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17).  

Trees were one of the main focal areas, with approximately 40% of the agenda being dedicated to them. One of the key items tackled regarding trees revolved around the Action Plan for Malagasy ebonies and Malagasy rosewoods. Other key issues that garnered much discussion included the evaluation of the Review of Significant Trade (RST), nomenclature issues, trade in Orchidaceae spp. listed under CITES Appendix-II, and the non-detriment finding (NDF) reports on Pericopsis elata (afrormosia), Bulnesia sarmientoi (holywood), and the harvesting of and trade in Prunus africana (African cherry).  

Issues, such as RST evaluation, review of identification and guidance material, and capacity building had already been addressed by the 28th session of the CITES Animals Committee (AC28) and required PC22 approval to be forwarded to the 66th session of the CITES Standing Committee (SC).  

Collaboration and cooperation was central to some of the agenda items. For example, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)-CITES Programme has been instrumental in helping countries make NDFs, build capacities and strengthen knowledge on a number of tropical tree species.  

This analysis looks at some of the key issues discussed during and emerging from PC22, and assesses how the discussions and decisions of the meeting will affect the road leading up to and including a successful CoP17.


The focus on trees in CITES has grown substantially since the Convention’s inception. While only eight tree species were listed in CITES Appendices in 1975, the number had ballooned to over 300 species at CoP16 in 2013. As PC22 began, many participants commented on the extent of the tree issues the Committee had to deal with. The word “Madagascar” was on the lips of many as well, since implementation of the Malagasy Action Plan was one of the “hot topics” of PC22.

The focus on Madagascar should not be surprising. The island houses 5% of global biodiversity, while occupying just 0.4% of the global landmass. Domestic conservation efforts have been significant; the country tripled its terrestrial protected area coverage between 2003 and 2014, covering 12% of the island and hosting many unique animals and plants. Less than a year ago, at the IUCN World Parks Congress, Madagascar reiterated its commitment to: triple protected area coverage on land; triple marine protected area coverage; and ensure effective management of all its protected areas. These efforts involve a significant cost as the country’s protected area network is estimated to require approximately US$25 million per year to function effectively.

Rosewood and ebony, illegally harvested in Madagascar, have been smuggled out of the country at unprecedented levels using many different routes. Their fine texture, density, fragrance and color create a large demand in many parts of the world, especially Asia. At CoP16, parties agreed to include the Malagasy Dalbergia and Diospyros populations in Appendix II, and adopted an Action Plan, which aims to facilitate adequate implementation of the Appendix-II listings of Diospyros spp. and Dalbergia spp. On 13 August 2013, the CITES Authorities in Madagascar requested the Secretariat to publish a zero export quota for the genera, which: was subsequently extended; is under effect until 15 January 2016; and is expected to be renewed. The embargo also applies to all stocks of these timbers.

Adding to this, Madagascar has been rocked by political instability, with a coup-style change in leadership in March 2009. A September 2009 government decree legalized the export of unprocessed rosewood and although the decision was subsequently reverted, former President Andry Rajoelina once said that “The Malagasy do not need rosewood, they need funding.” However, the situation has improved since then, and the current democratically-elected president assumed office in January 2014.

During a recent meeting with CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon, President Hery Rajaonarimampianina stated that Madagascar’s forests should be conserved and used sustainably, responsibly and legally, stressing that the illegal timber trade must come to a halt. While the commitment seems to be there, implementation has proven difficult and confiscations of illegal shipments of Diospyros and Dalbergia are not uncommon.

Discussions at PC22 focused largely on implementation of the Action Plan as it relates to the CITES Appendix-II listings of Diospyros spp. and Dalbergia spp. The Malagasy Scientific Authority, who was present at the meeting, is responsible for advising on the effects of trade of endangered species. The Malagasy Management Authority, who was not present at the meeting, is responsible for administering the licensing system. Many delegates, while expressing concern on progress to date, were quick to point out that the Malagasy Scientific Authority is not at fault and is contributing where possible.  

There were also whispers in the corridors that the issue lies with the Malagasy Management Authority; this calls into question the efforts being taken to ensure the proper management of Diospyros spp. and Dalbergia spp. and whether effective monitoring and enforcement is being undertaken. Given that the Secretariat’s report states that implementation of the Action Plan has been carried out at a slow pace, and that illegal rosewood and ebony shipments continue to be seized, it is safe to say that monitoring and enforcement are insufficient.   

During the working group that was established at PC22 to address the Action Plan’s implementation, some participants suggested reporting on the NDFs for the genera in question to CoP17. Still, as some delegates pointed out, even if all resources are available, there is simply not enough time for the entire NDF process to be completed.  

Another hurdle to overcome relates to the fact that some of the work undertaken to implement the Action Plan was done under the auspices of the ITTO-CITES Programme, and Madagascar is not an ITTO member. While the ITTO cannot carry out projects in non-member countries, it can undertake projects on a regional basis rather than on a country-focused basis, which in this instance enabled research to be carried out in Madagascar. Madagascar has, however, been urged to finish the ITTO ratification process so that this hurdle can be avoided in the future.

On the path to CoP17, Madagascar is presented with a huge task and will require capacity building, technical assistance and funding to fulfil its commitments. Under current capacities, despite the urgency of the situation, no silver bullet exists. Focusing on a limited number of species and concluding work on them, paving the path for similar analysis on the 200 species of Diospyros and Dalbergia, was suggested by some PC members as the way forward.


Orchids are a highly prized and vulnerable family of plants; every one of the more than 26,000 species in the Orchidaceae family is currently subject to CITES control, under either Appendix-I or II. But some view protection of the entire family as either too burdensome or the source of unintended consequences.

For example, a recent change in Swiss law, which has led to the seizure of finished products containing orchid ingredients, has Switzerland concerned about a potential inundation of thousands of CITES permit requirements. A Swiss-commissioned trade survey showed at least 39 orchid species possibly present in European commerce. A proposed solution to this would be an annotation exempting trade in finished products packed and ready for retail trade that contain Orchidaceae parts. This approach is not without precedent. CoP15 adopted an exemption for finished products in retail trade containing candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica), a common ingredient in lipstick, with the understanding that trade was not impacting natural populations.  

This is not the first time this issue has been raised in the PC. PC19 appointed an intersessional working group to conduct a Web survey on international trade in orchid products, but it apparently did not produce a report. PC20 submitted a proposed decision to CoP16 directing the PC to conclude its review of the trade in Orchidaceae spp. to determine whether additional finished products should be exempted by amending the annotation for this taxon, noting that recommendations should be based on whether finished products are exported from range states and are a significant portion of the trade. However, CoP16 did not adopt this decision. Some source countries expressed concern about potential impacts on wild populations and a lack of adequate data for the proposed annotations; recent cases show that undocumented and illegal international trade continues to severely impact orchid populations.  

Using candelilla as the “exemption” example may be premature in the absence of good data; a project slated to begin in October 2015 aims to assess candelilla’s conservation status and sustainable use in harvested areas of Mexico. However, some research suggests that keeping the entire orchid family subject to CITES is having the unintended effect of decreasing international cooperation on research related to orchid conservation (PC22 Inf. 6), by impeding the cross-border movement of scientific specimens, notwithstanding the establishment of the Registered Scientific Institute programme intended to alleviate this problem. This situation is exacerbated by the predominance of orchid species in resource-limited countries.  

Ultimately, a new intersessional working group, with a directive to work electronically, was established to forward progress on the issue by gathering inputs from range states to: enable a full analysis of potential impacts to orchid conservation; analyze the risk of trade in finished products containing Orchidaceae parts; and report its findings at PC23 and PC24. Some felt, however, that it will take more than a virtual working group to tackle this issue given the scale of the mandate.


The RST process is one of the key CITES processes that assesses whether the trade of a species listed in Appendix-II is unsustainable. The RST has been under evaluation since 2012, and the results of the evaluation and its associated consultations were discussed both at AC28 and PC22.  

Participants generally welcomed the results, especially as the new process is shorter, streamlined and more transparent. The evaluation has also focused on making communications with parties clearer.  

The decision taken at CoP17 regarding the proposed revised RST is expected to be one of the key outcomes, or as one delegate put it “THE outcome.” All eyes will be focused on its first three test cases: Pericopsis elata (afrormosia) in the DRC, Bulnesia sarmientoi (holywood) in Paraguay and Prunus africana (African cherry). Seen by some as a boon, participants will be eager to see how these species fare in the new RST process post-CoP17.


As mentioned, the PC had a full workload during the week, with participants wading through the agenda items in anticipation of the SC meeting in January in Geneva, the last decision-making meeting before CoP17.  

A number of recommendations will be forwarded to the SC for consideration, including decisions on NDFs, a draft decision that modifies the RST process, consideration of species retained in the RST process, trade in retail-ready products containing components of CITES Appendix-II listed Orchidaceae and recommendations on the further implementation of the Malagasy Action Plan.  

Many participants, by the close of business on the final day, remarked that while it seemed some issues might have been skirted over due to the packed agenda and the need to complete it, this was generally not the case as parties came prepared for work and eager to participate and make progress, and, thus, were able to move through the issues quickly.  

One seasoned participant suggested that “CITES” and “trade” are no longer seen as “dirty words” in the conservation arena as parties have come to realize that CITES is ultimately “there to help, not to hinder.” This was evidenced by some developing country parties coming forward to seek assistance on conducting NDFs and to request retention in the RST process.

Despite an emotional ending, as participants said goodbye to the outgoing PC Chair and Vice-Chair, Margarita Clemente and Hesiquio Benítez, respectively, delegates were, overall, very satisfied with the PC22 outcomes. A solid foundation has now been laid for a successful outcome for plants, both at the upcoming SC meeting and at CoP17.


CBD 19th Meeting of SBSTTA and 9th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention: The nineteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 19) and the ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the CBD will be held back-to-back. SBSTTA 19 will convene from 2-5 November. The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the CBD will convene from 4-7 November.  dates: 2-7 November 2015  location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1- 514-288-2220  fax:  +1-514-288-6588  email: www: and  

2nd INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Events: Hosted by the new INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, 2015 events will include, from 16-17 November 2015, the 2nd INTERPOL-UNEP International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference, and on 18 November 2015, the 2nd Meeting of the INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee. The meetings will: review progress in the field of environmental compliance and enforcement; and identify priorities and adopt joint strategies to enhance national, regional and international responses to effectively address environmental crime.  dates: 16-18 November 2015  location: Singapore  contact: INTERPOL Secretariat  email: www:  

51st Session of the International Tropical Timber Council: This ITTC meeting will consider recommendations for tropical forest-related policies and approve financing for field-level projects. The ITTC serves as the governing body for the ITTO.  dates: 16-21 November 2015  location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  contact: ITTO Secretariat  phone: +81-45-223-1110  fax: +81-45-223-1111  email: www:  

Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference: The WTO Ministerial Conference is the highest-level decision-making body of the WTO. It usually meets every two years and brings together all WTO members.  dates: 15-18 December 2015  location: Nairobi, Kenya www:  

Lomé Conference: The Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) of Maritime Security and Development in Africa will bring together Heads of State and Government of the 54 AU countries to meet with experts and leaders from the business world in order to establish a roadmap on Maritime Security in Africa. Delegates will discuss maritime strategy within the context of the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIMS Strategy). They will also address: maritime insecurity marked by acts of assault and piracy; illicit trafficking at sea; regional and international cooperation to safeguard marine safety; illegal fishing; and preservation of marine life.  dates: 4-8 January 2016 [tentative]  location: Lomé, Togo  contact: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Togo  www:  

CITES SC66: The CITES SC will convene for its sixty-sixth meeting.  dates: 11-15 January 2016   location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email: www:  

Second Meeting of the UNEP Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives: The Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives will prepare for the next meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) of UNEP.  dates: 15-19 February 2016   location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary of Governing Bodies  email: www:  

IPBES-4: IPBES-4 will, inter alia, review progress on its work programme.  dates: 22-28 February 2016  location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  contact: IPBES Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-0570  email: www:  

CBD 20th Meeting of SBSTTA and First Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation: SBSTTA 20 and the first meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation will be held back to back, in Montreal, Canada.  dates: 25 April – 7 May 2016  location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  email: www:  

Second Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly: The UNEA of UNEP will convene for the second time in 2016. The UNEA represents the highest level of governance of international environmental affairs in the UN system.  dates: 23-27 May 2016  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary of Governing Bodies  email: www:  

CITES COP17: CoP17 is expected to address issues such as amendment proposals, nomenclature, NDFs, capacity building and production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species.  dates: 24 September – 5 October 2016  location: Johannesburg, South Africa  contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email: www:  

Further information