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Last Minute Compromise on Mahogany

Harare, 20 June, 1997 -- At the eleventh hour on the final day of the CITES conference, a compromise position was struck between the major importing and exporting countries of Bigleaf mahogany.

Brazil proposed the setting up of a working group under the auspices of the Amazon Pact Treaty, incorporating all range states, importing countries and expert organisations. They will develop recommendations within 18 months on conservation measures for mahogany.

Additionally, Brazil, Bolivia and Mexico all agreed to list their populations of Bigleaf mahogany on Appendix III of the convention. Appendix III is adopted by individual countries which have implemented national measures to conserve a species and wish importing countries to help enforce these by demanding to see export certificates.

"We believe this is an important initiative and a major move forward," said Isabel McCrea of Greenpeace, "but we will remain vigilant to ensure that the promises made in Harare are followed through in Latin America."

"No immediate conservation measures have yet been put in place, especially to curtail the destructive illegal trade. For that reason, Greenpeace cannot yet advise the public that bigleaf mahogany is an ecologically sustainable product."

The CITES parties were within minutes from a vote to reopen the debate on a joint US-Bolivian proposal to list mahogany on Appendix ll of the convention. Brazil had fiercely resisted this stronger measure and proposed the working group as a compromise to avoid possible defeat on the floor.

"Greenpeace stands ready to contribute to the mahogany working group and hopes that significant concrete measures necessary to halt the very real threats to this rainforest species are made sooner rather than later," Ms. McCrea said.

"We would like to see Brazil back up the commitments made at this conference with an immediate halt to all mahogany exports which do not come from approved management plan areas."

Contact: Greenpeace on cell phone 263 11 601450/601532


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