Rosewood Timber Trade Rampant with False CITES Documents Alleges EIA

Kosso wood, known botanically as Pterocarpus erinaceus, is commercially considered a rosewood and sometimes referred to as African Rosewood. It’s highly sought after by Kosso buyers for its use in rosewood furniture manufactured in China and Vietnam.

In recent years, as other true rosewood species like Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) and Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa) became increasingly scarce, Kosso wood prices rose dramatically creating a boom in Kosso log trade.

Rosewood CITES Regulation

In response to rapidly diminishing Kosso timber stocks, Kosso was listed under Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This means that all shipments of Kosso wood from West Africa require a CITES document, effective May 9, 2016. Additionally, Kosso was listed under Appendix II along with all Dalbergia (rosewood) species, effective January 1, 2017.

The application of these regulations to all rosewood timber was celebrated as a victory for sustainable rosewood timber management and trade. In the words of CITES, “Thanks to CITES trade regulations, CITES Management Authorities establish the veracity of the legal origins of rosewood and palisander species before they enter international trade, and CITES Scientific Authorities advise on the sustainable nature of the harvest and exports.”

CITES Documentation of Allegedly Illegal Kosso

While the intent of these new rosewood CITES requirements is to create a more sustainable rosewood market, a new report suggests that, in reality, adding this new layer of governance has resulted in little more than additional payments of new bribes to maintain business as usual. Using undercover investigators, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) spent two years meeting with over 30 actors in Kosso timber supply chains between Nigeria and China. According to them, almost all of the Kosso wood exported from Nigeria over the past three years has been illegal including shipments for which CITES certificates were issued.

CITES Corruption

The EIA report found that “thousands of CITES documents have been used in contravention of the core principals of the Convention”. After Kosso was listed under CITES Appendix III, Chinese officials began seizing Kosso shipments from Nigeria that were not accompanied by a CITES document or were determined to have a fraudulent one. The EIA claims that by the end of 2016 that over 1.4 million Kosso logs were detained in Chinese ports. As a response, influential Nigerian and Chinese businessmen paid over US$ 1 million to senior Nigerian officials. Then “approximately 4,000 CITES documents were retrospectively issued by the Nigerian authorities and were used by Chinese importers to legitimize all of the detained wood.” Read the full EIA Nigeria Kosso report here.

Stay informed of risks in your supply chains by joining TIMBERCHECK™.

TIMBERCHECK™ is a simple way to increase profitability, reduce risk, and build networks of trust in forest product markets. Become a TIMBERCHECK™ beta member by joining for free. Join for free.




One thought on “Rosewood Timber Trade Rampant with False CITES Documents Alleges EIA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s