Important preliminary decisions at CITES Conference in Johannesburg
The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (COP 17) in Johannesburg saw important preliminary decisions taken for the protection of threatened species such as elephants, certain reptiles and tropical wood. The confirmation of these decisions in the plenary session this week is simply a formality.
Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks commented "The CITES Conference has demonstrated exceptionally its capacity to act. The numerous discussions have been worthwhile as now the international community is united in the fight against species extinction. Together we have rejected ivory trade, a step that inspires hope in our efforts to combat elephant poaching. Many other species under threat have also gained from the conference."
Key preliminary decisions taken at the conference:
- A clear rejection of international ivory trade: The Parties agreed there will be no exceptions made to the ivory trade ban. A mechanism facilitating ivory trade in future was defeated and decisions were taken to further restrict domestic ivory markets. In addition, conflict between African state groups, which would have made the fight against poaching more difficult, was successfully avoided.
- An ambitious mechanism for the joint fight against elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade: Under this mechanism, all states affected by poaching and illegal ivory trade made a commitment to draw up and implement national ivory action plans. The mechanism has sharp teeth as any states that do not or do not adequately implement their national plans will face sanctions under CITES, including trade sanctions.
- Trade restrictions will come into effect for 55 reptile species under threat, in particular for species which have been decimated to supply the European domestic animal market. The proposals were put forward by the EU, Germany and many of the countries of origin.
- Trade in rare tropical woods will in future be subject to stringent requirements. In the case of over 300 species of rosewood, trade will only be permitted if their use is sustainable. This applies mainly to rosewood species growing in rainforests. Germany and the EU are strongly committed to protecting these species. The same applies for Bubinga wood found in Central Africa: Gabon and Germany launched an initiative in this regard.
- Pangolins are under serious threat from poaching and have been granted the highest protection status.
- Following a proposal made by Germany, the export of hunting trophies will be heavily restricted. Export will only be permitted if the hunting is legal and does not negatively impact on the species’ populations.
- Lion conservation will be continued: The growing lion-bone trade will be curbed and the countries of origin have agreed on a common strategy to improve protection.
The concluding plenary meetings of the CITES COP17 will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.