Parks urges tighter log trade rules

Parks urges tighter log trade rules

Thailand has urged neighbouring countries and China to tighten regulations to curb the illegal Siamese rosewood timber trade.

Prasert Sornsathapornkul, director of the Natural World Heritage Office at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said demand in China for the protected Siamese rosewood, known as phayung, is on the rise, leading to illegal logging in Thailand even though the government has tried to tackle the problem.

He was speaking at the 2nd Regional Dialogue on Preventing Illegal Logging and Trade of Siamese Rosewood organised by the department.

Thailand has asked China to examine phayung imports to determine if the timber was logged according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations.

CITES listing requires permission to trade in Siamese rosewood, a plant species found only in Southeast Asia, with a large amount of it found in Thailand.

However, Mr Prasert noted that logging licences issued by Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam make it difficult to determine if the wood originated in those countries or in Thailand.

Thai authorities have voiced concern the timber might be shipped from Thailand to neighbouring countries to be legalised.

Mr Prasert raised the case of Laos which claims its current phayung stock meets CITES standards.

He calls the licences a big loophole that allows illegal wood from Thailand to be included in other countries' stocks to be later shipped to China legally.

He added Thailand would hold a bilateral meeting with Laos to discuss the issue and find measures to deal with the problem.

Speaking at the meeting, He Jinxing, programme officer of the CITES Management Authority of China, said: "We import the [phayung] logs from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam with legal licences under CITES regulations."

Meanwhile, Natural Resource and Environment Minister Surasak Kanjanarat said all parties should work together to reduce demand for phayung. Illegal logging of the precious timber was a serious crime with big economic impacts.

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