CITES: India removed from Review of Trade process for Red Sanders
By TIOL News Service
NEW DELHI, NOV 14, 2023: UNION Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav said that he was happy to share that the recently concluded CITES Standing Committee meeting proved to be a major boost for India's wildlife and ecosystem conservation efforts.
In a post Yadav said consequent to amendment of Wildlife Act, placement of the CITES legislation of India in Category 1 of the National Legislation Project of CITES has been confirmed. The Minister said India was under Review of Significant Trade (RST) process for Red Sanders since 2004. He said based on our compliance and reporting, India has been removed from the Review of Significant Trade for Red Sanders. Yadav said the development is a major boost for the farmers who grow Red Sanders.
The 77th meeting of the Standing Committee of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 6th to 10th November 2023.India is a Party to the CITES since 1976. A delegation led by Dr. S.P. Yadav, Additional Director General of Forests (PT) & CITES Management Authority-India, participated in the 77 th Standing Committee meeting.
During the five day meeting, the Committee, chaired by Ms. Naimah Aziz, United States of America, had discussed various issues, mainly CITES compliance matters, many of which were relevant to India.
The Red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) is a high market value tree, endemic to few districts in Andhra Pradesh. The species is listed as Appendix II under CITES since 1994. The species has been subjected to threats of illegal harvesting and smuggling leading to their depletion from natural forest. However, red sanders wood sourced from artificially propagation (plantations) comprise a major part of legal export. The Red sanders species was listed for Review of Significant Trade (RST) process more or less since 2004. The CITES RST process enables disciplinary action in the form of trade suspensions directed at countries that do not meet their obligations. This is a process through which the CITES Standing Committee places increased scrutiny on the exports of a species from a country to determine if the Convention is being properly implemented. In the past, it has even led to a recommendation to suspend trade with India.
India had been updating the CITES Secretariat on the status of export of red sanders from India. India had also conducted Non Detrimental Finding for the species and had finalized a zero quota for export of Red sanders from wild. Continuous pursuance on the matter with the CITES Secretariat, Standing Committee and Plants Committee has led the Standing Committee in this (77 th ) meeting to decide on removing Red sanders from the RST process. The removal of Pterocarpus santalinus from RST process from India was unconditional. This action will help the farmers growing Red sanders to increase their income through cultivation and export of Red Sanders from the plantations. It would also help in motivating farmers to grow more red sanders trees as a source of sustainable income.
The CITES provides that every Party align its national legislation to accommodate CITES provisions. India was listed in Category 2 for CITES National Legislation programme. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was, therefore, amended in the year 2022, wherein the provisions of CITES was incorporated in the Act. The CITES Standing Committee has in its 77 th meeting decided to place India in Category 1 as it had fully complied with the requirements of CITES National Legislation programme.
Besides, India had also made interventions for the need for according stringent measures for conservation of Big Cats, and especially, the Asian Big Cats. India in its intervention also appealed to range countries and other stakeholders to join International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA), launched by Hon'ble Prime Minister on 9 th April 2023 for conservation of seven Big Cat species.