Qatar: Endangered species on the table


The future trading of many of the world's most endangered species could be decided over the next 10 days in Doha, Qatar at the 15th COP (Conference of the Parties) CITES meeting.

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of of Wild Fauna and Flora, "is vital in the fight to ensure that species are not threatened by international trade,” says Sue Mainka, Head of IUCN’s Science and Learning and Head of IUCN’s delegation to CITES.

CITES started life in the early 60s, but it wasn't until 1973 that the text of the convention was finally agreed at a meeting of 80 countries in Washington DC, and the world had to wait until 1975 for it to come into force. Despite being voluntary the countries (or Parties) that signed the convention are legally bound to it, despite the fact it doesn't take the place of national law. "Rather," as it says on the CITES website, "it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level."

Tuna, tiger, and elephant might naturally come to the fore when we think about endangered species trade, but in reality the list is far longer, far more diverse and no doubt a legal nightmare to police. In total over 33,000 species find their way into the CITES framework in the three Appendices. As with the Red List, the vast majority of this list are plants. In fact over 28,000 plants are protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade.

Typically, the botanically paranoid among us, will wonder why plants aren't given a higher profile at these talks in the media. So over the next few weeks Plant Talk will aim to profile some of our green friends on the list including Swietenia macrophylla, the big-leaf mahogany.

Related links:

IN PICTURES: Welwitschia mirabilis


Thumbnail of welwitschia mirabilis Take a closer look at one of the world's botanical oddities.

IUCN: Species of the day


IUCN red list logoAs part of the celebrations for International Year of Biodiversity IUCN bring us a wonderful new resource - Species of the Day. On each day of 2010 a threatened species is profiled from the Red List describing its habitat, population, current plight, and future hopes.

IUCN Red List update shows up global failure to slow biodiversity loss


WWF respond to the Red List. The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species should cause alarm over the continuing unprecedented loss of species and the failure so far of mechanisms to arrest biodiversity loss, WWF said today. The 2009 Red List, issued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, shows that more than one-third (36 per cent) of the 47,677 species assessed are threatened with extinction.

Over 12,000 plants on the Red List


queen of the andesIt’s that dreaded time of year again - the time when it is spelled out so clearly how badly we are failing the planet. The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that 17,291 species out of the 47,677 assessed species are threatened with extinction.