Photo: Panama Asks for Protection of Its Woods
The Government of Panama has requested the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to list 91 hardwood species in an effort to curb the increase in illegal timber trade by enabling verification of legal origin under CITES standards.
The listing of ebony wood and rosewood species in CITES Appendix III will help facilitate detection of fraud and make critical trade information available to exporting and importing countries. CITES Appendix III regulations mean that all cross-border shipments now have to be authorized by the issuance of a document certifying the origin of the products covered by the listing.
It is widely recognized that tropical forests are under severe pressure from logging and land conversion. FAO estimates that the world lost over 0.8 % of its tropical forests every year between 1980 and 1990. From 1990 to 2000, the annual loss of forest cover in many tropical countries continued to be significant, in many cases over 1 % per year.
Panama has requested the help of the other member States to control the trade in their national populations of Dalbergia darienensis and Dalbergia retusa, known as black rosewood or cocobolo. Dalbergia retusa occurs from Mexico to Panama, mainly in dry tropical forest. Only the heartwood of Dalbergia timber species yields quality timber.
Cocobolo is exceptionally good for marine use. Because it is hard, beautiful, and very stable, it is also used for gun grips, butts of billiard cues and chess pieces. Kitchen knives with cocobolo handles can be immersed in water for short periods without distortion of the grips and do not require chemical treatment. This precious wood has also been used for jewellery boxes, inlay and veneer, the handles of high quality hair brushes, and the manufacture of bowling balls. Cocobolo is resonant when struck, making it a preferred material for marimbas, clarinets and xylophones.