Defra to meet with trade over rosewood issue

In a meeting planned to be held on December 18th Defra policy officials will discuss the impact of new CITES requirements on the trade of rosewood with auction houses and musical instrument associations.

The listing of new rosewood species under CITES at the Conference of the Parties last year has affected the trade in wooden instruments. Permits are now required for cross-border movement.

The Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) held a conference this year in South Africa where the decision was made that all species of rosewood under the genus Dalbergia and three bubinga species (Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii) will be protected under CITES Appendix II. Kosso (Pterocarpus erinaceus) will also be protected.

The main cause of the protection is widely considered not to be caused so much by trade in instruments but an incredibly high demand for China's high end furniture market. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime have stated that rosewood accounted for the highest percentage of illicit wildlife seizures by value from 2005 to 2014. The billion dollar trade has heavily affected Vietnam and Thailand's forests and wildlife.

Brazilian Rosewood is currently under CITES protection but this move brings hundreds of other species of rosewood under similar regulation. Many of these woods are regularly used in woodwind and stringed instruments.

For sellers and dealers this means if you are trading in any of the newly regulated woods outside of your country each one must be accompanied by a CITES re-export certificate. Even if the item was purchased before the 2nd January this year the item will still need a CITES certificate and to be marked as being pre-convention if the item is being traded internationally.

What does this mean for selling at auction?

Many items of rosewood furniture require the appropriate paperwork from the Wildlife Licensing & Registration Service.

A sideboard designed by Ib Kofod-Larsen, one of over 80 lots of rosewood furniture withdrawn from a Decorative Art and Design auction earlier this year.

The meeting on the 18th December will hopefully give auction houses the chance to voice common concerns over the regulations devaluing many mid-century pieces of furniture. Auctioneers are obliged to apply for expensive CITES 'Article 10' certificates for some rosewood items. The majority of antique rosewood furniture is exempt from this regulation under 'antiques derogation'. This states that an item is exempt from normal controls if it was acquired prior to March 1947 and has been significantly altered from its natural state before that date. Unfortunately much of the popular mid-century Scandinavian furniture is made from Dalbergia nigra, a genus of the wood popular amongst many pioneering cabinet makers.

To make sure an item is compliant you can consult the Wildlife Licensing & Registration Service in Bristol. Further information can be found here.

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