Restricted and Endangered Wood Species

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?

Bowl made from CITES-restricted Monkey puzzle wood, harmlessly
collected from ornamental tree far outside species’ natural range

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 Legality

An 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.

Common
Name

Scientific
Name

CITES
Appx.

Listing
Date

Notes

AfrormosiaPericopsis elataII1992.06.11Includes “transformed” wood such as edge-shaped millwork
AgarwoodAquilaria spp.II1995.02.16Includes wood chips, beads, prayer beads and carvings
AjoCaryocar costaricenseII1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
AlerceFitzroya cupressoidesI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
AlmendroDipteryx oleiferaIII2003.02.13Only wood from Costa Rica and Nicaragua; includes finished wood products
AloewoodGyrinops spp.II2005.01.12Includes wood chips, beads, prayer beads and carvings
Ash, tamoFraxinus mandshuricaIII2014.06.24Only wood from Russia
AyuqueBalmea stormiaeI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
BrazilwoodPaubrasilia echinata II2007.09.13Includes unfinished wood bow products
BubingaGuibourtia spp.II2017.01.02Includes finished wood products exceeding 10 kg; musical instruments exempt
Cedar, MulanjeWiddringtonia whyteiII2019.11.28Includes finished wood products
Cedar, SpanishCedrela spp.II2019.11.28Includes all Cedrela species from Neotropics because of similarity to C. odorata
Cipres de las GuaitecasPilgerodendron uviferumI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
Ebony, MadagascarDiospyros spp.II2011.12.22Only wood from Madagascar
Fir, GuatemalanAbies guatemalensisI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
GavilanOreomunnea pterocarpaII1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
KossoPterocarpus erinaceusII2016.05.09Includes finished wood products
Lignum vitaeGuaiacum spp. II1975.07.01
Lignum vitae, ArgentineBulnesia sarmientoiII2008.02.12
MacacaubaPlatymiscium parviflorumII1975.07.01Includes finished wood products; only P. parviflorum protected, other Platymiscium species unrestricted
Magnolia, eggMagnolia liliifera var. obovatIII1975.11.16Includes finished wood products
Mahogany, CubanSwietenia mahagoniII1992.06.11
Mahogany, HonduranSwietenia macrophyllaII1995.11.16Only wood from Neotropics
Mahogany, MexicanSwietenia humilisII1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
Monkey puzzleAraucaria araucanaI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
Oak, JapaneseQuercus mongolicaIII2014.06.24Only wood from Russia
Pau rosa, BrazilianAniba rosaeodoraII2010.06.23
Pine, KoreanPinus koraiensisIII2010.10.14Only wood from Russia
Pino del cerroPodocarpus parlatoreiI1975.07.01Includes finished wood products
Podocarp, black pinePodocarpus neriifoliusIII1975.11.16Only wood from Nepal; includes finished wood products
RaminGonystylus spp.II2001.08.06Includes finished wood products
Rosewood, BrazilianDalbergia nigraI1992.06.11Includes finished wood products
Rosewood, SiameseDalbergia cochinchinensisII2013.03.13Includes finished wood products
RosewoodsDalbergia spp.II2017.01.02Includes finished wood products exceeding 10 kg; musical instruments exempt (except for Brazilian and Siamese rosewoods)
Sandalwood, East African Osyris lanceolataII2013.06.12Only wood from  Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda
Stinkwood, redPrunus africanaII1995.02.16Includes finished wood products
TaculaPterocarpus tinctoriusII2019.11.28
TetracentronTetracentron sinenseIII1975.11.16Only wood from Nepal
Yew, ChineseTaxus chinensisII2005.01.12Includes all subspecies and varieties
Yew, ChineseTaxus fuanaII2005.01.12Includes all subspecies and varieties
Yew, HimalayanTaxus wallichianaII1995.02.16Includes all subspecies and varieties
Yew, JapaneseTaxus cuspidataII2005.01.12Includes all subspecies and varieties
Yew, TaiwanTaxus sumatranaII2005.01.12Includes all subspecies and varieties
ZitanPterocarpus santalinusII1995.02.16Only restricts logs and wood chips

Note that a listing generally means that trade of the raw wood, either in log, board, or veneer form, is restricted. On some species, the restriction is even greater, and includes even finished products made of or including a protected wood: one of the most common instances of this is with guitars made of Brazilian Rosewood. In these instances, it is illegal to take such items across international borders without a proper export permit.

If you believe that the wood or finished wood product was harvested/made before the date of the CITES listing, you still cannot legally travel with or export the wood unless you have written proof or other evidence that it was obtained before the listing date. If you have the required evidence, and are willing to pay a processing fee and wait 2-3 months for processing, then you may be eligible for a Pre-Convention Certificate.

In most cases, importing/exporting raw wood listed on CITES Appendices I or II can be complicated and costly, and in most cases, is neither legal nor encouraged. Some wood is further restricted to include even finished wood products, and in all but the most exceptional cases, is not recommended.

If ever in doubt on such complicated issues, be sure to consult proper authorities to get a matter clarified.

IUCN

Founded 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

Common Name

Scientific Name

IUCN Red List Status

AburaMitragyna spp.Vulnerable
AfrormosiaPericopsis elataEndangered
AfzeliaAfzelia spp.Vulnerable/Endangered
BalauShorea spp.Critically Endangered
Bois de RoseDalbergia maritimaEndangered
BosseGuarea cedrataVulnerable
BrazilwoodCaesalpinia echinataEndangered
BrownheartVouacapoua americanaCritically Endangered
Cedar of LebanonCedrus libaniVulnerable
Cedar, Port OrfordChamaecyparis lawsonianaVulnerable
Cedar, SpanishCedrela odorataVulnerable
CerejeiraAmburana cearensisEndangered
Chestnut, horseAesculus hippocastanumVulnerable
CocoboloDalbergia retusaVulnerable
Dorrigo waratahAlloxylon pinnatumVulnerable
Ebony, BrownCaesalpinia paraguariensisVulnerable
Ebony, GaboonDiospyros crassifloraEndangered
Ebony, MacassarDiospyros celebicaVulnerable
Ebony, MunDiospyros munCritically Endangered
EtimoeCopaifera salikoundaVulnerable
Fir, FraserAbies fraseriEndangered (in the wild)
Fir, SpanishAbies pinsapoEndangered
IdigboTerminalia ivorensisVulnerable
ImbuiaOcotea porosaVulnerable
IrokoMilicia spp.Vulnerable
KeruingDipterocarpus spp.Critically Endangered
Kauri, East IndianAgathis dammaraVulnerable
Kauri, FijianAgathis macrophyllaEndangered
KotoPterygota macrocarpaVulnerable
Lignum VitaeGuaiacum spp.Endangered
Mahogany, AfricanKhaya spp.Vulnerable
Mahogany, CubanSwietenia mahoganiEndangered
Mahogany, HonduranSwietenia macrophyllaVulnerable
MakoreTieghemella heckeliiEndangered
MerantiShorea spp.Critically Endangered
MerbauIntsia spp.Vulnerable
MoabiBaillonella toxispermaVulnerable
Monkey PuzzleAraucaria araucanaEndangered
NarraPterocarpus indicusVulnerable
NyatohPalaquiuim spp.Vulnerable
OkoumeAucoumea klaineanaVulnerable
OpepeNauclea diderrichiiVulnerable
Peroba RosaAspidosperma polyneuronEndangered
Pine, LongleafPinus palustrisVulnerable
Pine, Norfolk IslandAraucaria heterophyllaVulnerable
Pine, ParanaAraucaria angustifoliaCritically Endangered
Pine, SumatranPinus merkusiiVulnerable
RaminGonystylus spp.Vulnerable
RedwoodSequoia sempervirensVulnerable
Rosewood, BrazilianDalbergia nigraVulnerable
Rosewood, BurmeseDalbergia oliveriEndangered
Rosewood, East IndianDalbergia latifoliaVulnerable
Rosewood, MadagascarDalbergia baroniiVulnerable
Rosewood, SiameseDalbergia cochinchinensisVulnerable
SapeleEntandrophragma cylindricumVulnerable
Satinwood, CeylonChloroxylon swieteniaVulnerable
Satinwood, West IndianZanthoxylum flavumVulnerable
UtileEntandrophragma utileVulnerable
Walnut, AfricanLovoa trichilioidesVulnerable
Walnut, ClaroJuglans californicaVulnerable
Walnut, PeruvianJuglans spp.Endangered
WengeMillettia laurentiiEndangered
ZebrawoodMicroberlinia brazzavillensisVulnerable

Borderline IUCN Species

Common Name

Scientific Name

IUCN Status

AmendoimPterogyne nitensNear Threatened
AndirobaCarapa spp.Endangered (single species)
AnigrePouteria spp.Conservation Dependent
Apple, rough-barkedAngophora floribundaNear Threatened
AraracangaAspidosperma megalocarponNear Threatened
Blackwood, AfricanDalbergia melanoxylonNear Threatened
Blackwood, BurmeseDalbergia cultrataNear Threatened
CamphorCinnamomum spp.Endangered/Vulnerable (three species)
EbiaraBerlinia spp.Endangered/Vulnerable (three species)
Ebony, CeylonDiospyros ebenumData Deficient
GreenheartChlorocardium rodieiData Deficient
Juniper, AfricanJuniperus proceraNear Threatened
KempasKoompassia malaccensisConservation Dependent
MacacaubaPlatymiscium spp.Endangered (single species)
MangoMangifera indicaData Deficient
Mesquite, BlackProsopis nigraData Deficient
MuningaPterocarpus angolensisNear Threatened
Padauk, AndamanPterocarpus dalbergioidesData Deficient
Pau FerroMachaerium spp.Vulnerable (single species)
PaulowniaPaulownia spp.Critically Endangered (single species)
Pine, HuonLagarostrobos frankliniiConservation Dependent
Pine, RadiataPinus radiataConservation Dependent
Pine, SandPinus clausaNear Threatened
PistachioPistacia veraNear Threatened
QuebrachoSchinopsis spp.Vulnerable (single species)
RengasGluta spp.Vulnerable (single species)
Salwood, brownAcacia aulacocarpaNear Threatened
SugiCryptomeria japonicaNear Threatened
Teak, RhodesianBaikiaea plurijugaNear Threatened
VerawoodBulnesia sarmientoiConservation Dependent
Walnut, EnglishJuglans regiaNear Threatened
Yew, PacificTaxus brevifoliaNear Threatened

IUCN 2020. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2020-3. <https://www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 December 2020.

Are you an aspiring wood nerd?

The poster, Worldwide Woods, Ranked by Hardness, should be required reading for anyone enrolled in the school of wood nerdery. I have amassed over 500 wood species on a single poster, arranged into eight major geographic regions, with each wood sorted and ranked according to its Janka hardness. Each wood has been meticulously documented and photographed, listed with its Janka hardness value (in lbf) and geographic and global hardness rankings. Consider this: the venerable Red Oak (Quercus rubra) sits at only #33 in North America and #278 worldwide for hardness! Aspiring wood nerds be advised: your syllabus may be calling for Worldwide Woods as part of your next assignment!

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Reverend Mike Bettaney

I’m in the UK

Reverend Mike Bettaney

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?

Cress

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.

Fabian

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. :)

Anna

Interesting information about the forests. Trees are light on our planet. They need to be planted as much as possible!

Hennie Kok

I have been commissioned to make some furniture for a friend in Australia. Can I use Panga-Panga, Bubinga and Makore?

Tim Richardson

These were part of a lot I bought at auction. I have not had ant luck finding the maker. Looking for any info.

1581805016996-1406020674.jpg
1581805039853675532815.jpg
Victor A

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.

Gary C

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.

Thomas Deleo

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?

Verlaine Schneider

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.

Toon Brutchen

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 .

manika

Wood species and types based article good.

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Jim

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.

Jim

Bob Gleason

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.

Christine Atkinson

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!

Omnisphere Crack

wow. great content and nice sharing.very very useful….

Mario Buttigieg

Hello,
Do you know if there are any restrictions for items made from Mango ( Mangifera Indica ) to enter in to the European union from Thailand ?

Erick Braham

Hello,
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

Tracey

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?

Mesi Louis

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Now I’m happy for the information and as well, hope that you know what a great job you are doing teaching many others through the use of a site.

sim

@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?

Muxammil Ak

this is nice site and my site is.
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Dane Chandler

There exists no none American chestnut trees. They are extinct.

Wolfgang Siebeneich

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 »

ROAMARS TM

@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.

Dylan Alexander

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.

ATUL GUPTA

is Indian mahogany wood restricted ?

Atul Gupta

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.

Rowland Heights ChessKraft

I was just told that Indian Rosewood and Sheesham are now restricted by the Indian Government.

IrisWall

Pernambucco Wood for Violin Bows – Brazil – preservation project: https://www.arcosbrasil.com/site/?p=pernambuco

IrisWall

African Blackwood Conservation Project – very important – https://www.blackwoodconservation.org/

Job applicant

I can also get Lignum Vitae if you got the bucks

Job applicant

I can get all of the gaboon Ebony you can pay for at $145 per board foot.

zylstra

IUCN is not “the largest network dealing with global environmental issues” by either revenue or assets.

wolf

Which one is the biggest by revenue or assets?

eaglegreen

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. . ..

eaglegreen

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. . . ..

Patrick Clark

I know it’s a song, just add spruce to the end and voila, it’s a song.

barry biesanz

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.

CR