Cambodian officials Tuesday denied opposing Thai efforts to regulate international trade in rare and endangered species of rosewood timber, saying Cambodia protects rosewood and does not export it.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reported Sunday that Cambodian and Lao officials had objected to a Thai proposal to protect a rosewood species under the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Lao and Cambodian officials told a Bangkok meeting of Asean experts on CITES that such a measure would harm their exports, according to the Post.
However, Forestry Administration Deputy Director Ung Samath, who led a 10-member Cambodian delegation to the meeting along with Fisheries Administration Director Nao Thuok, said Tuesday that the Thais had made no such proposal and that, as a luxury-grade timber, all rosewood species were strictly protected in Cambodia.
“It is wrong information, because in Cambodia right now, by law, rosewood is luxury wood. So it is not allowed for cutting or export,” he said.
Thai delegates had called for assistance in interdicting cross-border shipments of the timber but no call for CITES protection was made, he said.
The Thai customs department announced in February that Thai officials had seized almost $16 million in illicit rosewood shipments since 2006.
WWF Country Director Seng Teak said Tuesday that rosewood is a commercial term referring to several species of highly-prized hardwood trees often used in making furniture.
The “neng noun” species, or Dalbergia oliveri, is endangered, according to the World Conservation Union, while Dalbergia cochinchinensis, or “kranhung,” and Pterocarpus indicus, or “phnoung,” are considered vulnerable, said Seng Teak.
The slow-growth species thrive only in specific environmental conditions and can be particularly vulnerable to logging, he said.