The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species known as CITES is being held in Bangkok, Thailand. And while you might wonder what that has to do with Belize - a news item from that event does spike some local interest. It says that numerous species of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar, Latin America, and Southeast Asia were granted protection earlier this week at the meeting.
It says the new protections will cover Siam rosewood, Brazilian rosewood, and other rosewood species native to Central America. It's unclear at this time whether than includes Belize - but if it does, it's significant. That's because a CITES listing imposes very specific restrictions on trade in any restricted item. Rosewood - or any timber - exported from a country with a CITES requirement - will have to be accompanied by extensive documentation from authorities certifying that the timber was sustainably harvested. This would make the kind of haphazard trade that has been happening in Belize impossible. Specifically, it would make it more difficult for traders and illegal loggers to smuggle ROSEWOOD to China.
And if you're wondering, Rosewood is one of the biggest subjects at the CITES Meeting - and that's not just because of what's been happening in Belize. Hardly! What's happening here has been happening all over the world wherever there are forests that grow Rosewood. The Chinese demand for Rosewood has spurred a flood of smuggling and associated violence throughout Asia. There have been dozens of Rosewood smuggling - related deaths in Thailand.
According to world news reports, currently, a single cubic meter of Siam rosewood can fetch as much as $50,000 dollars in China.
In Belize, it is estimated that Rosewood Exports over the past few years have amounted to 12 million dollars in sales for the exporters and only $200,000 dollars in royalties for Government - this from 112 containers of Rosewood exported to China.