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Twelfth Meeting of the Plants Committee

13 to 17 May 2002 in Leiden, the Netherlands




Opening Ceremony: Participants met Monday morning, 13 May, at Leiden University and Botanic Garden to officially open the meeting. Geke Faber, Dutch Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, welcomed participants on behalf of the Dutch government. She noted that: almost 60% of world trade in flowers and plants passes through the Netherlands; trade in cultivated specimens takes pressure off wild populations; and CITES can play an important role in forest protection. She stressed that there are benefits to be gained from cooperation between the Convention on Biological Diversity and CITES, highlighting the new working programme on forests that came out of the CBD Sixth Conference of the Parties.

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D. D. Breimer, rector magnificus of Leiden University, expressed respect for the work of the Plants Committee, to which the staff of the Leiden Botanic Garden will be contributing.

Welcoming participants, Margarita Clemente (Spain), Chair of the Plants Committee, expressed gratitude to the Netherlands for hosting the meeting and to all those who helped with preparations and organization. She noted the host country is well-known for its horticultural industry and trade in propagated plants and praised university and government collaboration regarding CITES.

On Monday afternoon, 13 May, members adopted the Rules of Procedure (PC12/Doc. 2), Agenda (PC12/Doc. 3.1) and Working Programme (PC12/Doc. 3.2). A working group was established, with the regional representative for North America as Chair, to discuss problems and inconsistencies in Resolution Conf. 8.9 on the significant trade in plants. The Secretariat introduced the admission of observers (PC12/Doc. 4), including 14 inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, which was adopted.

Chair Clemente introduced the report of the Standing Committee, stressing the need to further discuss the criteria for Appendices amendments to allow time to reach consensus. Mexico added that all comments made on this issue over the years should be taken into consideration.

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Chair Clemente noted a series of minor changes made to the implementation of strategic planning (PC12/Doc. 7.3), which was adopted at the 46th meeting of the Standing Committee in Geneva in March 2002. She asked that a working group be formed to discuss how to move forward on the plan’s objectives and action points, including, inter alia, the need to: assist in the development of appropriate domestic legislation; ensure that the Convention’s Appendices reflect the conservation and management needs of species; promote cooperation among national, regional and international law enforcement agencies; and strengthen communication and collaboration with national and international NGOs.
Plants Committee Vice-Chair Bertrand von Arx (North America) presented the action points directed to the Plants Committee (PC12/Doc. 15). He noted that actions were prioritized and should be re-evaluated periodically for highest possible efficiency. Chair Clemente stressed the need to develop indicators as the strategic planning is constantly changing and actions are completed. The Secretariat encouraged the Plants Committee to focus on relevant priority actions and avoid spending time on things that are “nice” rather than important.

Guaiacum spp.: Mexico responded to a document prepared by TRAFFIC North America on the status of lignum vitae or tree of life (Guaiacum) research in Mexico, stating that further work is needed on Guaiacum coulteri and on non-detriment findings. He added there will be discussion with the US Forest Service regarding funding for this project.
Outlining their proposal regarding inclusion of Guaiacum spp. on Appendix II, Germany said that both G. sanctum and G. coulteri are traded, but that the species are indistinguishable except by highly sophisticated methods. In order to address “look-alike” issues, he suggested that all species of Guaiacum be listed on Appendix II to curb trade in those that are endangered. Mexico, one of the range States, with TRAFFIC International, and the regional representatives of Africa, Asia, Oceania and Central and South America and the Caribbean, supported the German proposal. World Conservation Trust of Switzerland (IWMC-CH) said there should be information on all species of Guaiacum. The regional representative for Africa questioned the need to have information on all look-alike species if they are to be listed anyway, to which the Secretariat responded that Resolution Conf. 9.24 addresses this issue and that non-detriment findings must be made.
The CITES Secretariat suggested other options might be to undertake a significant trade review of the species or ask range States about what other measures they can take to prevent unsustainable trade in species, such as implementing quotas.
IWMC-CH enquired about the use of annotations for the listing of Guaiacum spp. Oceania asked if there were any intentions to research possible methods for distinguishing between naturally or plantation-grown trees. The Secretariat responded that solutions are needed that are not necessarily high-tech and that can be enforced by customs agencies around the world.
The regional representative for North America expressed concern about fulfilling the requirements of Decision 11.114 (regarding Guaiacum spp.). The Secretariat said that the Plants Committee could report to the COP that it did not fulfill the designated tasks, which could remain on future meeting agendas. Participants agreed to forward the German proposal to COP-12

Listen to a part of the discussion

Geke Faber

D. D. Breimer

Chair Margarita Clemente

From the left: Malan Lindeque, Ger van Vliet and Margarita Clemente

An exhibit of confiscated plant material, Natural History Museum

Field 20-4, created for the Pesthuis courtyard by sculptor Frans de Wit

Leiden�s Botanical gardens in bloom


CITES home page

The Plants Commitee page

Agenda and Documents

Eighteenth Meeting of the Animals Committee

ENB coverage of The eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP-11)

ENB coverage of The Tenth Meeting of the Plants Committee and Sixteenth Meeting of the Animals Committee


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