Study finds 38 endangered tree species legally traded in Brazil

According to a recently published study conducted by scientists from the Federal Fluminense University and the Botanical Garden Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro, 38 endangered tree species were legally traded between 2012 and 2016.

The study, titled “Endangered species account for 10% of Brazil’s documented timber trade”, was published in the June 2020 issue of the Journal for Nature Conservation. It studied data on wood taxa and volume transportation as recorded by the National System for the Environment (SISNAMA), which regulates the possession and transport for commercial forest products in Brazil. The study found that among 2214 species traded, 38 are on the Ministry of the Environment’s official list of flora species threatened with extinction. Among these 38, 17 are classified as “Vulnerable”, 18 are “Endangered” and three are “Critically Endangered”. First on the “Critically Endangered” list is Araucaria angustifolia, which represented 5.2% of total timber traded over the research period.

“The presence of these endangered species at the top of the list of woods transported within the national territory raises serious questions for conservation policy and practices in Brazil,” lamented the study’s authors. “The information provided by this study should be of interest to national and international environmental agencies, international trade control agencies, conservation biologists, researchers and policymakers working to produce more effective control of harvest and trade of endangered species.”

Furthermore, several threatened species are not included on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the species checklist for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), both of which are important tools to highlight threatened species and facilitate their conservation.

The scientists also urged that timber should no longer be tracked only at the genus level but instead at the species level, and have the threatened species updated in the IUCN and CITES lists.