Did you know that trading in wildlife made easier could become a revenue generator for economies?
Also, the beautiful creatures you probably see on TV can be traded and become a revenue generator for economies. But, how sustainable and manageable is this?
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), economic activities around biodiversity are possible.
CITES says that contrary to popular belief, 97 per cent of the 36,000 wild fauna and flora species listed by the secretariat can be traded legally.
CITES which is the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)‘s BioTrade Initiative champions companies whose business models benefit both the planet’s plants and animals and people.
It is mostly thought that species in nature featured in magazines or on TV programmes are only fit to be highly protected and only for the benefit of those able to see them in their natural habitats.
However, CITES says that trade in biodiversity – known as BioTrade – can generate a variety of socio-economic benefits for communities that collect, hunt or farm unique plants and animals in sustainable ways.
For nature lovers, did you ever imagine you could own a brightly coloured jungle frog from Ecuador?
Mostly, if you did, you probably dismissed the idea because surely it can’t be legal to buy such precious animals? But you’d be wrong, according to CITES.
Representatives of UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative, attending a CITES and Livelihoods Programme workshop in Guangzhou, China (6–8 November), highlighted the benefits and incentives legal trade in wildlife can provide.
These including reducing poaching, promoting more positive attitudes toward conservation and conserving the habitats of CITES-listed species and others.
The Frog story
“BioTrade practitioners have already shown how legal, sustainable and traceable trade can generate positive incentives for suppliers and their communities for conserving and recovering endangered species while generating economically viable activity,” Lorena Jaramillo, an economist with UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative, said.
The Guangzhou workshop aimed to identify 30 new successful cases which can communicate the positive linkages between generating sustainable livelihoods and conserving endangered species.
“We want to find ways to enhance livelihoods through these events to show that endangered-species conservation is possible and can be successful with the participation of local communities,” CITES official Yuan Liu said at the workshop.
Success trade stories?
Among the BioTrade success stories presented by UNCTAD was Wikiri, an amphibian farm in Ecuador.
Dealers can legally purchase a variety of vulnerable captive-bred frogs and toads from Wikiri, such as the bright green gliding tree frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) listed by CITES in its Appendix II.
The appendix includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade in which must be controlled.
Wikiri, which sources tadpoles as well as grown frogs, also offers sapo-watching (“toad-spotting”) tours.
Importantly, much of its work is devoted to conservation, research and education, as well as frog and toad farming.
In addition, UNCTAD presented to the workshop BioTrade case studies of health and hygiene products company Weleda, which started in a small shed in Switzerland and is now a global company in 50 countries that uses plant extracts, and a Colombian Ministry of Environment-Sociedad Colombiana de Cycadas-Fondo Accion project that has commercialized ornamental plants.
“In BioTrade we work in an integrated and holistic manner to develop biodiversity-based value chains and businesses, create an enabling policy environment and support entrepreneurs to access international markets,” said Lika Sasaki of UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative.
“We help to enhance the capacity of the companies to develop their businesses with social and environmental practices in mind.”
The workshop concluded with a vision to compile and disseminate new success stories, continue the exchange of experiences between countries and regions, and develop models for the conservation and sustainable use of CITES-listed species.
The CITES Secretariat and the CITES Management Authority of China hosted the workshop, which gathered more than 80 representatives from five continents as well as experts from conservation organizations, United Nations agencies and academic institutions.
UNCTAD carried out this work under the Global BioTrade Programme: Linking Trade, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, which is supported by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs-SECO.
Key findings and conclusions of the workshop will be presented at the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 23 May–3 June 2019.
The Centre for International Environmental Law says that biodiversity is increasingly threatened by destructive human activities thus linkages between trade policy and the conservation or loss of biological resources proliferate in an increasingly global marketplace.
CIEL cautions, “International trade policies have a significant impact on the earth’s biodiversity and biological resources. They can undermine national and international conservation laws and policies. Trade liberalization can also increase exploitation of natural resources and exacerbate the associated negative impacts on biodiversity.”
It adds that CIEL seeks to reform trade rules so that they support rather than impede conservation and sustainable use.
“We also seek to ensure that trade liberalization is paralleled and balanced by stronger frameworks for conservation and sustainable use of biological resources affected by trade.”
The British Ecological Society says that although illegal trade is undoubtedly a significant threat to biodiversity, international trade affects wild species in a more complex way.
A 2012 study was the first to quantify the impacts of global trade on animals showing that 30 per cent of the species threats are due to international trade.
Titled, International trade drives biodiversity threats in developing nations, the study by researchers Lenzen Moran, D. Kanemoto, K. Foran, B. Lobefaro and Geschke, A. countries that contribute the most to biodiversity loss through trade are the USA, Japan, Germany, France and the UK.