Rosewood poaching arrests soar

Action against illegal rosewood logging has been given a major boost by an order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), with increasing numbers of arrests.

Nipon Chotibal, acting director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said on Tuesday the NCPO's forest protection policy facilitated the suppression of rosewood poaching.

Previously, authorities could not make arrests without seeking a court order. Many people were also helping by reporting information about the activities of rosewood poachers.

He said the number of arrests for illegally logging  rosewood rose to 244 cases in June, up by 80 cases from May, and most of rosewood illegally felled were mature trees more than 40 years old.

Mr Nipon said ending illegal logging of rosewood is crucial as the Northeast and East of Thailand contain the last concentrations of siamese rosewood in the country and the overseas price had risen to one million baht per cubic metre.

Thai rosewood, Dalbergia cochinchinensis, is protected under the  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Appendix II, which regulates trade of threatened species through logging permits and agreed quotas.

It is also native to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam  - and is under theat in all countries from the depredations of timber poachers. China is the main market for illegal loggers, with high demand from rich people for furniture made from the rare and beautiful wood.

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