Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: CITES, Rosewood
Mains level: Harmony of India with global conservation bodies
- India has proposed to remove Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- The Rosewood (called sheesham in India) is currently part of Appendix II of CITES that has species not necessarily threatened with extinction.
- The Appendix II governs the trade that must be controlled to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
India doesn’t want that for rosewood: Why?
- The species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range, even it is invasive in some parts of the world.
- The regulation of trade in the species is not necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future.
- The harvest of specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.
- India sent the proposal ahead of the 18thConference of Parties (COP) of CITES, which will be held in Colombo from May 23 to June 3.
Why such rare move by India?
- In the 17thCOP, held in Johannesburg in 2016, several countries had raised concerns over a considerable rise in interest in the wood of Dalbergia in international markets, primarily in China.
- This was fuelling an illegal trade which was decimating Dalbergia
- Although, CITES focuses on the protection of individual species, COP 17 put the entire genus under Appendix II, which regulates trade in species.
- While most member countries agreed to the proposal, India, for the first time, entered a reservation concerning the inclusion of all rosewood in Appendix II.
- The regulation of Dalbergiatrade was hurting handicraft makers in our country.
- This criterion is not based on the level of threat the species face, but the difficulty of distinguishing the species from other threatened species of the genus.
About CITES Appendices
- CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls.
- All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.
- It has three appendices. Appendix I has species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
- Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling trade.
- CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
- Regulation of trade in the species is required to ensure that the harvest of specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.
India doesn’t defy CITES
- India is an signatory to and has also ratified CITES convention in 1976.
- Apart from Dalbergia sissoo, India has also proposed to transfer small clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), smooth coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) from Appendix II to Appendix I, thereby giving more protection to the species.
- The otter species, according to the proposal, is threatened by international trade and habitat loss.
- The proposal also includes inclusion of Gekko geckoand Wedgefish (Rhinidae) in Appendix II of CITES. It says that Gekko gecko is traded highly for Chinese traditional medicine.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild flora and fauna (CITES) 1973
- Adopted When and by Whom: It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Objective: The Conference aims to control or prevent international commercial trade inendangered species or products derived from them.
- Key Function: The Convention does not seek to directly protect endangered species, rather it seeks to reduce the economic incentive to poach endangered species and destroy their habitat by closing off the international market.
- India specific trivia: India became a party to the convention in 1976. International trade in all wild flora and fauna in general and species covered under convention is regulated through the provisions of the Wildlife (protection) Act 1972.