by Eric Meier
The ethical issues surrounding the harvesting of trees for lumber are both expansive and ambiguous. Concerns about sustainability and habitat destruction prompt many of these ethical questions. For instance, can a given species continue to reproduce at a sustainable rate given the current rate of harvesting? Even if a tree species can be sustainably harvested from the wild, would doing so destroy or endanger other species in the same habitat? Will harvesting encroach upon indigenous peoples’ rights and/or local communities’ well-being?
Further mixed into this murky cocktail is the fact that for some countries (especially poorer third-world countries) lumber is big business, and placing a restriction on such a lucrative sector of commerce would be seen as counter-productive, and consequently, actual or potential levels of exploitation may not be easily or readily discovered.
However, despite the complexity of the issue, and the incomplete or even possibly faulty data, some information is better than no information. With these shortcomings in mind, there are two international entities that will be used and cited on this website, CITES and the IUCN. A brief way to distinguish the two is to think of CITES as dealing more on the legal side of the issue, while IUCN pertains to the environmental side.
CITES: A Question of LegalityAn international agreement between most world governments was formed in 1973, called the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES for short. Since its formation, CITES has held a convention of involved countries every three years. During this time, species can be added (or re-evaluated and removed) to a three-tiered list of endangered species that’s come to be known as simply as the “Appendices.” The Appendices, technically a single document, has three different levels of protection for species.
Appendix I – This appendix represents species that are in the most danger and are considered to be threatened with extinction, and are consequently the most restricted in international trade. (For wood, this also includes finished products made of the wood too.)
Appendix II – This appendix contains species that are at risk in the wild, but not necessarily threatened with extinction. Species in this appendix are closely regulated, but are typically not as restricted as Appendix I.
Appendix III – This appendix contains species that a certain country (called a “party” within CITES), has voluntarily requested to be regulated in order to help preserve the species in question. Appendix III species regulation is only applicable for the specific party that has requested its inclusion, and is therefore less restrictive than Appendix I or II.Although there are literally thousands of plant species protected under CITES, only a portion of these species are trees, and of the included tree species, only a relatively small portion of them are actually used as lumber. Thus, the list below is a condensed and simplified version of the CITES Appendices, including only the species of trees that are typically used or harvested for lumber.
|Afrormosia||Pericopsis elata||II||1992.06.11||Includes “transformed” wood such as edge-shaped millwork|
|Afzelia||Afzelia spp.||II||2023.02.23||Only wood from Africa|
|Agarwood||Aquilaria spp.||II||1995.02.16||Includes wood chips, beads, prayer beads and carvings|
|Ajo||Caryocar costaricense||II||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Alerce||Fitzroya cupressoides||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Almendro||Dipteryx oleifera||III||2003.02.13||Only wood from Costa Rica and Nicaragua; includes finished wood products|
|Aloewood||Gyrinops spp.||II||2005.01.12||Includes wood chips, beads, prayer beads and carvings|
|Ash, tamo||Fraxinus mandshurica||III||2014.06.24||Only wood from Russia|
|Ayuque||Balmea stormiae||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Brazilwood||Paubrasilia echinata||II||2007.09.13||Includes finished products; special exemption for re-exported finished bows|
|Bubinga||Guibourtia spp.||II||2017.01.02||Includes finished wood products exceeding 10 kg; musical instruments exempt|
|Cedar, Mulanje||Widdringtonia whytei||II||2019.11.28||Includes finished wood products|
|Cedar, Spanish||Cedrela spp.||II||2019.11.28||Includes all Cedrela species from Neotropics because of similarity to C. odorata|
|Cipres de las Guaitecas||Pilgerodendron uviferum||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Cumaru||Dipteryx spp.||II||2024.11.25||Scheduled to be restricted 24 months after initial Nov. 2022 vote.|
|Ebony, Madagascar||Diospyros spp.||II||2011.12.22||Only wood from Madagascar|
|Fir, Guatemalan||Abies guatemalensis||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Gavilan||Oreomunnea pterocarpa||II||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|II||2024.11.25||Scheduled to be restricted 24 months after initial Nov. 2022 vote.|
|Lignum vitae||Guaiacum spp.||II||1975.07.01|
|Lignum vitae, Argentine||Bulnesia sarmientoi||II||2008.02.12|
|Macacauba||Platymiscium parviflorum||II||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products; only P. parviflorum protected, other Platymiscium species unrestricted|
|Magnolia, egg||Magnolia liliifera var. obovat||III||1975.11.16||Includes finished wood products|
|Mahogany, African||Khaya spp.||II||2023.02.23||Only wood from Africa|
|Mahogany, Cuban||Swietenia mahagoni||II||1992.06.11|
|Mahogany, Honduran||Swietenia macrophylla||II||1995.11.16||Only wood from Neotropics|
|Mahogany, Mexican||Swietenia humilis||II||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Monkey puzzle||Araucaria araucana||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Oak, Japanese||Quercus mongolica||III||2014.06.24||Only wood from Russia|
|Padauk, African||Pterocarpus spp.||II||2023.02.23||Includes all Pterocarpus species from Africa|
|Pau rosa, Brazilian||Aniba rosaeodora||II||2010.06.23|
|Pine, Korean||Pinus koraiensis||III||2010.10.14||Only wood from Russia|
|Pino del cerro||Podocarpus parlatorei||I||1975.07.01||Includes finished wood products|
|Podocarp, black pine||Podocarpus neriifolius||III||1975.11.16||Only wood from Nepal; includes finished wood products|
|Ramin||Gonystylus spp.||II||2001.08.06||Includes finished wood products|
|Rosewood, Brazilian||Dalbergia nigra||I||1992.06.11||Includes finished wood products|
|Rosewood, Siamese||Dalbergia cochinchinensis||II||2013.03.13||Includes finished wood products|
|Rosewoods||Dalbergia spp.||II||2017.01.02||Includes finished wood products exceeding 10 kg; musical instruments exempt (except for Brazilian and Siamese rosewoods)|
|Sandalwood, East African||Osyris lanceolata||II||2013.06.12||Only wood from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda|
|Stinkwood, red||Prunus africana||II||1995.02.16||Includes finished wood products|
|Tetracentron||Tetracentron sinense||III||1975.11.16||Only wood from Nepal|
|Yew, Chinese||Taxus chinensis||II||2005.01.12||Includes all subspecies and varieties|
|Yew, Chinese||Taxus fuana||II||2005.01.12||Includes all subspecies and varieties|
|Yew, Himalayan||Taxus wallichiana||II||1995.02.16||Includes all subspecies and varieties|
|Yew, Japanese||Taxus cuspidata||II||2005.01.12||Includes all subspecies and varieties|
|Yew, Taiwan||Taxus sumatrana||II||2005.01.12||Includes all subspecies and varieties|
|Zitan||Pterocarpus santalinus||II||1995.02.16||Only restricts logs and wood chips|
IUCNFounded in 1948, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (or IUCN for short) is both the oldest and largest network dealing with global environmental issues. Perhaps most notably for woodworkers, the IUCN publishes what is known as The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Species included on the Red List fall into one of three categories:
Critically Endangered: Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.
Endangered: Not critically endangered, but still facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.
Vulnerable: Not endangered, but still facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.It should be noted that “the immediate future” here is relative: the IUCN uses the gauge of three generations to determine a species’ rate of depletion. With mammals and other shorter-lived organisms, this tri-generational window may only be a few years or decades. However, since trees can be extremely long-lived, (several decades or even centuries for a single generation), the overall timeline for endangered trees is generally more drawn-out than other endangered species. In addition to the three listed categories above, there are also a few other assessments that the IUCN makes on species:
Near Threatened: Technically doesn’t meet the Red List criteria of a vulnerable or endangered species, but is close to qualifying and/or may qualify in the near future.
Conservation Dependent: Currently the focus of a species or habitat-specific conservation program. Cessation of such conservation programs would shortly result in the species being listed on the Red List.
Data Deficient: Either not enough data to make an accurate assessment, or a species’ listing has been disputed or challenged.
Least Concern: Species that aren’t near threatened, and are not dependent on conservation efforts.
Not Assessed: Obscure or uncommon species may still be unassessed. Absence from the Red List doesn’t always imply safety.It should also be noted that one unintentional shortcoming of the Red List is that it only considers the risk of extinction; broader issues dealing with habitat destruction or deforestation are not considered. Also, it doesn’t necessarily take into account the maturity of the trees (i.e., centuries-old trees are cut down, and subsequently replanted with younger trees).
Red List Species
IUCN Red List Status
|Balau||Shorea spp.||Critically Endangered|
|Bois de Rose||Dalbergia maritima||Endangered|
|Brownheart||Vouacapoua americana||Critically Endangered|
|Cedar of Lebanon||Cedrus libani||Vulnerable|
|Cedar, Port Orford||Chamaecyparis lawsoniana||Vulnerable|
|Cedar, Spanish||Cedrela odorata||Vulnerable|
|Chestnut, horse||Aesculus hippocastanum||Vulnerable|
|Dorrigo waratah||Alloxylon pinnatum||Vulnerable|
|Ebony, Brown||Caesalpinia paraguariensis||Vulnerable|
|Ebony, Gaboon||Diospyros crassiflora||Endangered|
|Ebony, Macassar||Diospyros celebica||Vulnerable|
|Ebony, Mun||Diospyros mun||Critically Endangered|
|Fir, Fraser||Abies fraseri||Endangered (in the wild)|
|Fir, Spanish||Abies pinsapo||Endangered|
|Keruing||Dipterocarpus spp.||Critically Endangered|
|Kauri, East Indian||Agathis dammara||Vulnerable|
|Kauri, Fijian||Agathis macrophylla||Endangered|
|Lignum Vitae||Guaiacum spp.||Endangered|
|Mahogany, African||Khaya spp.||Vulnerable|
|Mahogany, Cuban||Swietenia mahogani||Endangered|
|Mahogany, Honduran||Swietenia macrophylla||Vulnerable|
|Meranti||Shorea spp.||Critically Endangered|
|Monkey Puzzle||Araucaria araucana||Endangered|
|Peroba Rosa||Aspidosperma polyneuron||Endangered|
|Pine, Longleaf||Pinus palustris||Vulnerable|
|Pine, Norfolk Island||Araucaria heterophylla||Vulnerable|
|Pine, Parana||Araucaria angustifolia||Critically Endangered|
|Pine, Sumatran||Pinus merkusii||Vulnerable|
|Rosewood, Brazilian||Dalbergia nigra||Vulnerable|
|Rosewood, Burmese||Dalbergia oliveri||Endangered|
|Rosewood, East Indian||Dalbergia latifolia||Vulnerable|
|Rosewood, Madagascar||Dalbergia baronii||Vulnerable|
|Rosewood, Siamese||Dalbergia cochinchinensis||Vulnerable|
|Satinwood, Ceylon||Chloroxylon swietenia||Vulnerable|
|Satinwood, West Indian||Zanthoxylum flavum||Vulnerable|
|Walnut, Claro||Juglans californica||Vulnerable|
|Walnut, Peruvian||Juglans spp.||Endangered|
Borderline IUCN Species
|Amendoim||Pterogyne nitens||Near Threatened|
|Andiroba||Carapa spp.||Endangered (single species)|
|Anigre||Pouteria spp.||Conservation Dependent|
|Apple, rough-barked||Angophora floribunda||Near Threatened|
|Araracanga||Aspidosperma megalocarpon||Near Threatened|
|Blackwood, African||Dalbergia melanoxylon||Near Threatened|
|Blackwood, Burmese||Dalbergia cultrata||Near Threatened|
|Camphor||Cinnamomum spp.||Endangered/Vulnerable (three species)|
|Coolibah||Eucalyptus coolabah||Near Threatened|
|Ebiara||Berlinia spp.||Endangered/Vulnerable (three species)|
|Ebony, Ceylon||Diospyros ebenum||Data Deficient|
|Greenheart||Chlorocardium rodiei||Data Deficient|
|Juniper, African||Juniperus procera||Near Threatened|
|Kempas||Koompassia malaccensis||Conservation Dependent|
|Macacauba||Platymiscium spp.||Endangered (single species)|
|Mango||Mangifera indica||Data Deficient|
|Mesquite, Black||Prosopis nigra||Data Deficient|
|Muninga||Pterocarpus angolensis||Near Threatened|
|Padauk, Andaman||Pterocarpus dalbergioides||Data Deficient|
|Pau Ferro||Machaerium spp.||Vulnerable (single species)|
|Paulownia||Paulownia spp.||Critically Endangered (single species)|
|Pine, Huon||Lagarostrobos franklinii||Conservation Dependent|
|Pine, Radiata||Pinus radiata||Conservation Dependent|
|Pine, Sand||Pinus clausa||Near Threatened|
|Pistachio||Pistacia vera||Near Threatened|
|Purpleheart||Peltogyne spp.||Endangered (two species)|
|Quebracho||Schinopsis spp.||Vulnerable (single species)|
|Rengas||Gluta spp.||Vulnerable (single species)|
|Salwood, brown||Acacia aulacocarpa||Near Threatened|
|Sugi||Cryptomeria japonica||Near Threatened|
|Teak, Rhodesian||Baikiaea plurijuga||Near Threatened|
|Verawood||Bulnesia sarmientoi||Conservation Dependent|
|Walnut, English||Juglans regia||Near Threatened|
|Yew, Pacific||Taxus brevifolia||Near Threatened|
IUCN 2020. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2020-3. <https://www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 December 2020.
Wondering if anyone can tell me if I can sell and export from Canada to the US and other countries Philipino carvings made of Monkey Pod Acacia? They were bought and shipped from the Philipines in 1990 with no problem importing into Canada. Txs.
I am very much in favor of limiting or completely banning the exploitation (purchase/sale) of endangered species, but as long as large corporations are exempt from these restrictions, I will not believe in sincere intentions. Many of the endangered species can be bought freely, for example, in the USA, but I, as a private person, cannot bring a small piece to Europe (eg Lignum vitae, Cocobolo, etc.); at the same time, several large companies in Europe can sell the same type of wood in large quantities. This is certainly not to protect the species, but to protect interests. It’s the… Read more »
Mahogany species which are used to make guitars, as such what protection is there for their sustainable use and restoration in ecosystem structures.
Don’t see santalum album on any of those lists! Considering all the histeria about it and the prices because of it…very strange tbh
What’s the matter?
Q. is Argentinian mesquite really being sustainably harvested, as the flooring company claims ?
Why’s it called greenheart? I looked at the picture (i’m kinda dumb sometimes but it’s also 1 AM) And there’s no green.
I’m in the UK
I don’t know if there are any restrictions on the national level as I’m not familiar with UK. But with CITES, it only applies to pieces crossing international borders, so it wouldn’t even come up unless it were being shipped out of the country. Even then, Parana pine isn’t a restricted species.
Hi, I built some really sturdy bunk beds back in 1981 using Piranha Pine. My children used them and then my grandchildren used them but now I am thinking of selling them. Is there an issue in selling solid Piranha Pine beds today with wood sourced back in 1981?
Are you in the United States, or elsewhere?
Hi there. Do you have any advice when buying small amounts of thin offcuts or samples of veneer from sellers, like those on Ebay for example? I dont want to buy endangered species, possibly illegally felled etc. What is your advice please? I am hoping to ethically source these, but how is that done? I’m after 10 variations max (dif trees for variable colours/grain figured, spalted, lacey etc). Small, so max 70cm x 30cm single pieces. These will be used as plinths or thin veneer surfaces to display my products in photographs. I’m in the UK.
Stuff grown in non-tropic zones, FSC certified from UK and second hand generally are the best options. These ebay variety packs are often of dubious origins but so long as they conform with the above and are from a proper UK business then they should be ethically sound. Don’t be afraid to buy veneer, it makes better sense for your use than using solid wood. Veneer warps wood easily when drying or after so do plenty of research if at all unsure. :)
Interesting information about the forests. Trees are light on our planet. They need to be planted as much as possible!
I have been commissioned to make some furniture for a friend in Australia. Can I use Panga-Panga, Bubinga and Makore?
Bubinga is a more recent addition to CITES, which I believe also includes finished products, so it might be iffy to use it unless you are working in Australia with wood that’s already in the country. Otherwise there’s a risk of confiscation when it is crossing international borders.
These were part of a lot I bought at auction. I have not had ant luck finding the maker. Looking for any info.
I recgonize those. I last saw them in California. I need a better picture but truly, they look similar.
Are there any restrictions on shipping furniture made of Philippine Narra and mahogany furniture from country of origin. Heard there was a restriction in exporting this kind of wood out of PI.
There may very well be country-specific laws in effect, which this article does not cover. (CITES is more or less global restrictions.) Always do your homework for your specific country to be certain. At this time, I am not able to keep track of all the laws in every country, sorry!
I find it hard to believe Norfolk Island Pine is on this list (maybe in in trouble in its naive land). bIt is a common sight here in Brevard County (East coast) Florida where I live. Drive a mile down almost any suburban .street and see 20 or more. A very common ornamental tree. One of my relatives has one on her front lawn.
Eric, a dealer friend in Europe has advised me that zitan wood is banned in China and cannot be imported legally at all. I know it is covered in China with strict trading restrictions as it is Appendix II under CITES but I have not heard it is banned from importation completely. Opine?
Wondering about Parota wood from Mexico. Also known as Guanacaste, or Huanacaxtle. I was told it is a protected wood, but yet see it being used for many things. We would like to bring a slab back, but do t want to get arrested doing it! Or, if it is protected, wouldn’t want to contribute. Thanks in advance for any info.
I m interesting to grow rosewoods : dalbergia odorifera and dalbergia tonkinensis in Thailand
I did not see on your list from CITES . That’s mean I’m good to go for commercial growing.
Thanks for your information .
All Dalbergia species are treated as CITES app II now. Though you could look into getting some sort of export permit if you’re growing them yourself — I don’t have experience in that area.
Wood species and types based article good.
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Any info on a wood called “Sandalwood’s Sister”….I bought some woods from an estate that had been around for 40+ years and cannot seem to find any info on this.
The wood in the upper right and lower right boxes looks like Naio. Naio grows here in Hawaii and is commonly called false sandalwood. Has a similar smell to sandalwood, but the fragrance goes away after being cut for awhile. Naio is a really great wood to work with, but is not commercially available and is difficult to get.
Do you know if mkongo wood from Tanzania can be shipped internationally? I don’t see it listed on CITES list. Also if it can be shipped is it necessary to have a permit? Thanks!
wow. great content and nice sharing.very very useful….
Do you know if there are any restrictions for items made from Mango ( Mangifera Indica ) to enter in to the European union from Thailand ?
I am about to buy a musical instrument ( bagpipes ) made of Buxus sempervirens ( Boj ), which apparently is not in the list. I will bring it to Canada, and I was wondering if I need to take some precautions to avoid problems at customs. I have known of musicians going through a lot of grief when trying to enter the country. Thank you in advance! Erick
I’ve never heard of any issues with boxwood, at least not in international restrictions. If there were to be any issues, it would be down to the individual country’s customs.
Can you bring wood pieces (longboards?) from Nicaragua into Canada for the purpose of making it into a charcuterie board? For personal use not for resale. Are there any restrictions as to what can be brought in and in what state? If possible how to do I find out where to purchase or obtain the raw piece?
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@ejmeier Thanks for this list. It’s really useful. When was it last updated? The list is for timber relevant for lumber – would this cover any wood we would harvest for furniture?
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I don’t know of any current restriction on chestnut. There may be local or regional restrictions in place, but nothing international that I am aware of.
There exists no none American chestnut trees. They are extinct.
American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) is most definitely NOT extinct. While the fungal chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) has killed billions of trees starting in about 1903 and continues to do so to this day, many continue to resprout from stumps and live long enough to produce seed. Many more are planted every year and also live long enough to reproduce. In addition, efforts to find blight resistant strains of American chestnut and to produce resistant hybrids are underway all across North America as well as in other suitable habitats elsewhere. The species is still very much in trouble, but there is… Read more »
@ejmeier:disqus This might be abit off topic. So am doing this project, and I need to use pine wood. I could either buy it from a local store for $7 or use pine that’s already at home. I would go for the pine at home, but do you reckon there would be a compromise in the quality of the wood? i.e. in terms of strength – since the testing stage of the project deals with alot of impact being inflicted on the pine wood.
I have no way to tell for sure since I don’t know the quality (or type) of wood at the store, or the wood you have at home. There are a lot of different kinds of pine: https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/pine-wood-an-overall-guide/
I tried to find out what type of wood my floor is, it was made in the 50’s and all I know now is that it is endangered.
is Indian mahogany wood restricted ?
I assume you are referring to the species Toona ciliata. To my knowledge, it is not restricted in an international sense (i.e., not CITES listed), though there may be restrictions in place on harvesting the wood on a national level.
Thanks for throwing some light on it.
yes its Toona. Would you call that an open grain wood or closed. I am trying to figure if we can use that for making kitchen cutting board.
I’d classify it as open grain — it has large pores, as can be seen on the endgrain zoom on this page: https://www.wood-database.com/australian-red-cedar/#pics
I was just told that Indian Rosewood and Sheesham are now restricted by the Indian Government.
This is more or less correct, but not necessarily by the Indian government. Since both of those species are in the Dalbergia genus, they are now listed by CITES on appendix II. https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/rosewoods-bubinga-really-banned-cites/
Pernambucco Wood for Violin Bows – Brazil – preservation project: https://www.arcosbrasil.com/site/?p=pernambuco
African Blackwood Conservation Project – very important – https://www.blackwoodconservation.org/
I can also get Lignum Vitae if you got the bucks
I can get all of the gaboon Ebony you can pay for at $145 per board foot.
IUCN is not “the largest network dealing with global environmental issues” by either revenue or assets.
Which one is the biggest by revenue or assets?
What is “Birch Cedar” –you listed it as an abundant wood to use, but I couldn’t find it in your CITES list, which you said I could use to look up wood. . . . ?? Help. . ..
Huh? I don’t know of any wood on this website that would be described as “Birch Cedar.”
But if a wood is abundant to use, it more than likely would not be listed on the CITES appendices; this list only includes species that are considered threatened or endangered.
In the original article I read, there were a couple of lists toward the beginning part of the article which were in bold print–I think they were abundant woods to use–and that is where I saw “Birch Cedar”. . . .I wondered if it was a ‘new’ wood I wasn’t familiar with, or if it was meant to have a comma between, or, perhaps be individual entries, one after the other. . . ..
I know it’s a song, just add spruce to the end and voila, it’s a song.
Aji is a Peruvian chili sauce, Ajo is the endangered tree species.
Gets huge, never been able to find seeds. Not a great cabinet wood.