The use of inaccurate conversion factors for calculating export grade sawn wood yields from standing timber estimates is frequently used to “launder” illegally harvested mahogany.
Technical Assistance for the Development of the National Timber Yield Tables for Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) Standing Volume & Export Grade Sawn wood
Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) is the single most valuable tropical timber species in international trade. It is also one of the most important tropical species subject to selective harvesting.
Over-harvesting and illegal logging of this species led to its listing in Appendix II of the CITES Convention. Market studies show that the largest proportion of mahogany is exported to the United States, France, Canada, England, Dominican Republic and other European countries. Despite conservation, supervision and control efforts the impact of mahogany overharvesting and illegal logging has contributed to the species' rapid commercial extinction in many areas of its natural distribution.
The use of inaccurate conversion factors for calculating export grade sawn wood yields from standing timber estimates is frequently used to “launder” illegally harvested mahogany. The resulting projection of export grade sawn wood overstates the volumes actually produced from legally harvested trees of both species. These inflated figures help to justify additional CITES export permits which are used to facilitate the export of timber of illegal origin.
The same fate also applies to Spanish cedar (Cedrela Odorata) also included in CITES Appendix III. In some countries, Spanish cedar trade has skyrocketed in the last three years. If harvesting trends and the extent of illegal logging continue at the same pace, Spanish Cedar will follow mahogany's detrimental patterns.
Accurate conversion factors for standing timber and export grade sawn wood are crucial for the effective implementation of the CITES convention.
Guatemala’s CONAP and INAB, government agencies for protected areas and forest administration respectively; and Peru’s OSINFOR, forest control and supervision government agency, have requested technical assistance from Intercooperation and PROFOR's FLEG team at the World Bank to develop their national yield tables.
Technical assistance activities related to the development of national tables are expected to take place in Guatemala City and in selected forest concessions of Peten, Guatemala targeting relevant staff from CONAP, INAB and forest concessionaires. Desktop work will allow field data input, calibration of the model, definition of product classifications and development of the timber yield tables and statistical calculation.
In Peru, support and technical assistance to the Veduria Forestal Comunitaria activities will relate to monitoring, over sightings and obtaining lessons learned from at least two cases within forest industry-indigenous community timber commercial contracts, to prevent illegal logging and unsound social practices impacting local communities of Pucallpa, Atalaya and Contamana.
This activity has supported the following progress in Guatemala: