New restrictions to try to protect rapidly disappearing mahogany forests by regulating trade in the €86.8m a year business will enter into force this week, a UN environment body said today.
The controls, adopted by countries that have signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will require all shipments of big-leaf mahogany to be accompanied by a CITES export permit.
“By relying on the CITES permit system, exporters, importers and consumers of mahogany can be confident that they are using only legally and sustainably harvested timber,” said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers in Geneva.
The regulations come into force on Saturday.
Big-leaf mahogany, which grows to an average height of 100 feet, thrives in dry tropical forests ranging from southern Mexico to the Amazon basin.
But populations have been cut by 70% in Central America since 1950 because of illegal lumbering.
The species is already reported to be commercially extinct in El Salvador, Costa Rica and parts of South America and is now confined mainly to Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.
Admired for its high quality, beauty and durability, mahogany is made into luxury furniture, boats, expensive panelling, musical instruments and other wood products.
One cubic metre of big-leaf mahogany can fetch €1,150 on the international market and one tree can produce more than €87,000 worth of high-quality furniture.