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The GFTN Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing

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CITES-Listed Species

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a global response to concern over the trade of endangered species. CITES was enacted in 1975, and 160 countries have ratified the treaty. CITES regulates the trade in live animals, animal parts, ornamental plants, medicinal plant parts, and timber species. It seeks to identify threatened species and create increasingly strong legal barriers to their harvest and trade, depending on their conservation status (see also

CITES lists threatened or endangered wood species under three classifications, known as the Appendices. The restrictions on trade within these appendices vary depending on the extent to which the species is threatened with extinction. The CITES listing includes species that are traded for timber, traded for medicinal purposes, and rare but not commercially traded.

More Information on CITES Timber Species

The following websites contain valuable and regularly updated information on CITES listed species.
WCMC Web site (
IUCN Web site (
United States department of Agriculture

CITES Listing - Relevance for Responsible Purchasers

CITES Appendix I-listed species should be avoided at all times.

For Appendix II and III species, a high degree of caution must be exercised. First, there is a legal obligation on any importer and trader in these species that ensures that all imports and trades are registered with the relevant authorities. Penalties are often large for failure to register imports of Appendix II and III species.

The second question concerns the endangered nature of these species. Trade in these species may be legal, but it is important to recognise that, in many cases, it is trade that has led to the need and requirement for close monitoring. CITES-listed species are subject to being removed from trade (through removal to Appendix I or through a reduction in quotas), so in many cases there is no guarantee of the long-term availability of species on Appendices II and III.

Best practice with CITES species is to closely monitor the status of the species involved and ensure that all legislative requirements are met. Be 100 per cent certain of which species is being purchased.

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