EIA's investigation demonstrates the challenge that the timber listed species represent for the implementation of the Convention: Nigeria has gone from exporting a few hundred specimens of species included in the CITES Appendices in 2014 and 2015 to more than a million in 2016. And at the time EIA closed the investigation for this report, on September 15, 2017 no data for the trade in specimens of species included in the CITES Appendices exported from Nigeria in 2016 was publicly available. The current reporting practices and monitoring of the implementation of the Convention are inadequate to cope with the high flexibility and reactiveness demonstrated by the international criminal networks.
Sino-Nigerian criminal networks took advantage of the extreme decentralization and opacity of the licensing system, due to the Convention’s lack of resources, to launder illegally traded wood using CITES paperwork. Under its current permitting system CITES is unable to stop these abuses and to effectively combat the illegal trade in endangered trees.
In order to meet the challenge of the illegal trade and maintain the Convention’s integrity, EIA firmly believes that CITES needs to undertake profound reforms that will build on existing processes and discussions, and will bring accountability and transparency into its licensing system. China, for its part, unrivaled center of the global trade in precious and vulnerable rosewood trees, needs to lead the support for such CITES reforms. It also needs to go beyond, as an international leader in the fight against global warming.
The case of the Nigerian kosso demonstrates how for years Chinese demand has catalyzed the uncontrolled illegal logging and trade, which has led to the devastation of thousands of kilometers of forests and compromises Nigeria’s capacity to fulfill its Sustainable Development Goals. As a committed global leader on climate change, China needs to institute a prohibition on importing illegally sourced timber, whether it is listed on CITES or not.
It is vital for Nigeria to immediately put an end to the looting of its forests, and engage the renovation of its forest sector, transforming it into an effectively regulated branch of its economy, respectful of the environment and its citizen.