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Twelfth Meeting of the Plants Committee

13 to 17 May 2002 in Leiden, the Netherlands



There was no formal meeting of the Plants Committee on Wednesday, 15 May

Participants visited the Amsterdam Flower auction and nursery facilities during an all-day excursion


Participants met in morning and afternoon sessions at Naturalis, the natural history museum in Leiden, to discuss: the follow-up of COP-11 Decisions on Devils Claw (Harpagophytum) and efforts of the mahogany working group; species proposals for COP-12; significant trade in plants; and medicinal plants.

FOLLOW-UP OF COP-11 DECISIONS:
Harpagophytum
: Starting the morning session, Domitilla Raimondo, National Botanical Institute, South Africa, presented on the status of trade and management of Devils Claw (Harpagophytum spp.), perennial creeping herbs in southern Africa. She said these savannah grassland plants have been traditionally harvested, mainly in communal areas, and are used to treats arthritis, rheumatism and other aliments. She reported that Namibia is currently the main exporter with 92% of trade, while Botswana has 5% and South Africa has 3% of trade. She added that Namibia and Botswana oppose an Appendix II listing because of the income local people derive from the trade, although Botswana believes an Appendix III listing could help with gathering trade figures, and that South Africa will follow the recommendations of Namibia and Botswana.

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Berit Hachfeld, Institute of Botany, University of Hamburg, Germany, presented her research in Namibia and South Africa on the occurrence and density of Harpagophytum procumbens, used in medicinal trade. She said that Harpagophytum is restricted to sandy habitats in savannah ecosystems with 150-500mm rainfall, but is not evenly distributed throughout its range in southern Africa. Noting that Harpagophytum tends to occur in overgrazed areas with low grass coverage, she stressed it is necessary to research surrounding vegetation and land use systems when considering Harpagophytum issues.

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The regional representative for Africa introduced the common statement by participants at the Regional Devils Claw Conference (PC12/Doc. 8.1.1), held in Windhoek, Namibia on 28 February 2002. He said that the conference highlighted stakeholder and regional collaboration as necessary for sustainable development and trade of Devils Claw. He noted that some participants expressed opposition to a potential CITES listing as it could decrease trade and have negative impact on poor, rural communities.

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During discussion, the UK and others noted that CITES has a public relations problem in southern Africa, but an Appendix III listing could be beneficial to range States. Oceania emphasized the need for more monitoring. Germany stressed links with importers and traders to overcome lack of trade information. The Secretariat added that monitoring is more important than intensive ecological research and that CITES can play an important role in addressing non CITES-listed species. He added that there is a need to further develop documentation, which explains the role of an Appendix III listing. IWMC-CH said a species listing could be interpreted as leading to prohibition and suggested that the Plants Committee recommend export quotas at COP-12.
Chair Clemente suggested that the next Plants Committee meeting be held in southern Africa to try and change some of the negative views held about CITES and CITES listings. She said the Plants Committee would prepare a report for COP-12, which will include the discussed recommendations.

Mahogany (Swietenia) Working Group: The Secretariat highlighted the outcome of the working group, which met in Santa Cruz, Bolivia from 3-5 October 2001. The meeting addressed national reports from range States, as well as a report from TRAFFIC, and agreed that listing an Appendix III listing was a positive move to regulate trade. He said a final report is being prepared and would be sent to COP-12.

SPECIES PROPOSALS FOR COP-12:
Trade in seeds
: Referring to the document it prepared (PC12/Doc. 9.2), the US noted confusion over the application of Resolution Conf. 11.11 (Regulation of trade in plants), in particular the definition of artificially propagated specimens grown from wild-collected seeds of Appendix II species. He suggested that because the parental stocks are kept in the wild, the specimens are not artificially propagated. The Secretariat responded that a plant is determined to be artificially propagated if it is grown under controlled conditions, regardless of whether it is from wild-collected or artificially propagated seeds. The US referenced a decision regarding animals bred in captivity to illustrate his point regarding artificially propagated plant species, and suggested that possible solutions might be adding a definition of artificially propagated for plants derived from wild-collected seeds or other material, or designating such plants as being cultivated. IWMC-CH said different definitions of the same term should not be created, and that artificially propagated plants cannot be compared with animals bred in captivity.
The Secretariat advised: discussing the matter informally with interested Parties; forwarding the issue to COP-12 as necessary; and undertaking a general re-writing process of unclear resolutions on plants. The UK suggested that simple implementation guides and case studies would assist in clarifying resolutions. The Committee agreed to include clarification and revision of the resolutions in the work plan.
 
Artificially propagated orchid hybrids: The US presented a document (PC12/Doc. 10.1) resulting from efforts of a working group at the 11th Plants Committee meeting (PC-11) on the proposed exemption of artificially propagated orchid hybrids of the genera Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis and Vanda. He said that, as these orchids are mass-produced manufactured plants, there is no impact on wild species, but there is concern about enforcement issues. He suggested further consider by the Committee, noting that the vast majority of traded orchids are artificially propagated. During discussion, several participants agreed on the need to find a way to remove the ballast of having hybrids on Appendices as it burdens Management and Scientific Authorities and detracts attention from wild species. Participants raised the issue of large container shipments, with suggestions including more thorough identification of merchandise, country-of-origin Management Authority certification of hybrids, and verification of uniformity of container contents. Parties and regional groups, including Europe, Oceania, North America and Asia, supported the US in pursuing the proposal for presentation at COP-12.

Cactaceae: Based on lack of international trade and ease of species identification, Switzerland proposed deleting from Appendix II all Cactaceae species of subfamily Opuntioideae and all species of leaf-bearing cacti, sub-family Pereskioideae (genus Pereskiopsis and Quiabentia). These proposals (PC11/Doc. 10.1.1) were originally presented at PC-11. The Secretariat notified Parties in March 2002 of Switzerlands intention to consult with range States on this issue. Discussion by range States focused on lack of adequate trade data and objections to delisting. Mexico urged a precautionary approach, noted their document on updated taxonomy of Opuntia (PC12/Doc. 14.2), announced that they will host a meeting on 30 May 2002 on Opuntia, and invited Switzerland to withdraw their proposal. Austria questioned whether enforcement agents could identify the two proposed groups and separate them from other cacti. The US said they may have difficulty supporting Switzerlands proposal, noting that 50-75 % of cacti seizures from 1998-2000 were Opuntia. The Secretariat and Chair urged Parties to submit feedback on Switzerlands proposal. As recommended by participants, Switzerland intends to revise the proposal based on discussions and input from range States and submit it for consideration at COP-12.
 
Araucaria araucana: Chair Clemente inquired about the status of Argentinas Araucaria araucana proposal. The Secretariat said that the postal vote had failed due to lack of a quorum and that the issue will be forwarded for COP-12 consideration. The vote was called because of the Philippines rejection of the proposal. The Chair added that although the IUCN and FAO said there was no data showing the occurrence of Araucaria in the Philippines, it was still the countrys right to reject any such proposal for whatever reason. Nevertheless, there were calls to support Argentinas proposal to list remaining Araucaria on Appendix I. IWMC-CH said Argentina needs to decide if they will forward a new proposal so that Parties have time to provide the Secretariat with additional comments. Chile urged Parties and observers to make comments on this subject and to support Argentina.

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SIGNIFICANT TRADE IN PLANTS:
Problems and inconsistencies in Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.) and Decision 11.117: This topic was discussed in an informal working group and in Plenary on Tuesday, 14 May. Bertrand von Arx, working group Chair, reported on the outcomes of  the discussion on problems and inconsistencies in Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.) and Decision 11.117 (PC12/Doc. 11.1 (Rev.1) Annex 3). The aim of the working group was to clarify and simplify the significant trade review process for Appendix II flora. Delegates agreed to several minor changes to the text, as well as the need to define recommendation deadlines to facilitate implementation. The Secretariat said an explanation of additional text was needed on the application of adaptive management procedures for the formulation of recommendations and their transmission to range States.

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Implementation of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.): Trade in plants from Madagascar: The UK, coordinator of the Madagascar significant trade review process (PC12/Doc. 11.2.1), said that they have been examining trade data and investigating what is available in nurseries and over the Internet, which is to be given to the Madagascar Management Authorities. He said the next stage is to convene a workshop in Madagascar, but due to the domestic political situation, it has been impossible. The Secretariat added that they have been unable to send a CITES mission to Madagascar, and are awaiting a statement from the Madagascar UN mission in order to implement a six-month trade moratorium announced by Madagascar at the 18th meeting of the Animals Committee in April 2002.
 
Cycads: The Secretariat announced that the funding for the study on cycads was largely consumed by the Madagascar significant trade review project, and that commencement of the study was pending the instatement of the new Senior Scientific Officer (Flora) at the Secretariat. He expressed hope that the process would begin by the end of 2002.
Selection of taxa for review: The Secretariat explained that a list of species of concern was prepared by a working group at PC-11 in September 2001. Since then, the Secretariat has examined trade data and prepared suggestions regarding what species might be candidates for significant trade review (PC12/Doc. 11.2.3). Africa pointed out that the reference to Aloe ellenbeckii was misreported, the reported volume of 70,000 tons was of concern, and certain species had been omitted from the list. The UK urged that a study be conducted on global trade of Pericopsis. Mexico asked for clarification regarding the criteria by which species were deemed to be of concern. The European Commission said that it might be possible to use
their contract with UNEP-WCMC to carry out the work on this task. He also said that no decision had been taken yet to fund projects for 2003 and it was not their practice to solicit funding proposals.
Noting the lack of funding for reviews, the Secretariat advised that the number of species examined under the significant trade review process be limited in order to ensure quality results in terms of improving long-term management in range States. He said external funds could be sought to overcome resource constraints.
 
MEDICINAL PLANTS:
Inventory of medicinal artificial propagation operations: The Secretariat presented on implementation of COP-11 Decision 11.165 to inventory operations that artificially propagate species for medicinal purposes (PC12/Doc. 12.1.1). He stressed the enormous amount of work that this entails and requested the Plants Committee to help the Secretariat identify the conservation benefit of this inventory process. He reported that this issue was discussed with the Standing Committee, which agreed it is a low priority as its purpose is unclear. Alternatively, he said the Committee could consider recommending to COP-12 that Management Authorities initiate a national-level inventory of operations in their own countries. Austria supported this proposal and suggested working with the Convention on Biological Diversitys Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which may already have gathered relevant information. The EU recalled that UNEP-WCMC data was often speculative about whether species were exploited specifically for medicine or whether the medicinal use was a by-product of other use. The Chair concluded the Secretariat would prepare a document for COP-12 based on the discussion, and urged that further COP decisions consider the resources needed to complete recommended work.

List of species traded for medicinal purposes: The Secretariat said this element of COP-11 Decision 11.165: is a considerable challenge; depends on how medicinal purposes is defined and whether a species is traded internationally specifically for medicinal purposes, and is not a high priority. Several participants supported the Secretariats concern over resources necessary to undertake this task and questioned the original objectives of the Decision, urging that future COP agreements should be feasible and have defined objectives. The Chair suggested the Secretariat note for COP-12 the challenges of this decision. Italy introduced their information document (PC12/Doc. 12.1.3) on trade of medicinal plants growing in Italy as part of the implementation of Decision 11.165.

Margarita Clemente

John Donaldson, Africa

Domitilla Raimondo

Berit Hachfeld, Germany

Vice-Chair Bertrand von Arx

Colmn Crodin, European Commission

Anna Pr�ger, Hungary

Yong Teng Koon, Malaysia

Chris Sch�rmann, The Netherlands

From left: Jacques Berney, IWMC talks with Malan Lindeque, Chief, Scientific Support Unit, CITES Secretariat

Manit Jaichagun, Thailand

Michael Kiehn, Austria

Jonas L�thy, Switzerland

Art at the �Naturalis� (National Museum of Natural History)

Working group on problems and inconsistencies in Resolution CONF. 8.9

Links:

CITES home page

The Plants Commitee page

Agenda and Documents

Eighteenth Meeting of the Animals Committee

ENB coverage of The eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP-11)

ENB coverage of The Tenth Meeting of the Plants Committee and Sixteenth Meeting of the Animals Committee

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