Endangered Trees: Around the World

All the trees listed in this post are on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) list. Be aware of these restrictions when buying furniture or home improvements made out of these woods. Whilst the trade of these species may not always be illegal, they all have restrictions to their trade.

CITEs Guide:

I = Species that are in the most danger and are considered to be threaten by extinction.

II = Species that are at risk in the wild, though not necessarily threaten with extinction.

III = Species that are grown in a country that has voluntarily requested regulation of trade due to preservation of their land.

1)    Afrormosia (Pericopis Elata)

Pericopis Elata Pericopis Elata

Species at risk in wild (II)

Afrormosia is a very solid type of hardwood which is durable outdoors. It is resistant to fungus, insects and termites and is considered one of the most valued tropic timber species.

Due to illegal logging and habitat loss, trading regulations have been imposed on this species to prevent extinction.

Region:  CameroonRepublic of the CongoDemocratic Republic of the CongoIvory CoastGhana, and Nigeria.

2)   Ajo (Caryocar Costaricense)

Caryocar costaricense Caryocar Costaricense

Species at risk in wild (II)

The wood from this tree is commonly used for railway tracks and bridge construction, though it can also be used for furniture. It is mainly found in protected areas in Costa Rica and Panama, growing in lowland evergreen forests.

The main threat to this species is habitat loss.

Region: ColombiaCosta RicaPanama, and Venezuela.

3)   Almendro (Dipteryx Panamensis)

Dipteryx Panamensis Dipteryx Panamensis

Restricted due to natural habitat risk (in Costa Rica & Nicaragua only) (III)

Almendro wood is considered one of the heaviest woods in the world. It wasn’t used until the mid-1980s because of how difficult it was to work with. The hardness means it’s useful for heavy construction projects such as railroad and bridge building.

Region: South and Central America and Caribbean.

4)   Black Pine (Podocarpus Neriifolius)

Podocarpus Neriifolius Podocarpus Neriifolius

Restricted due to natural habitat risk (in Nepal only) (III)

Also commonly known as ‘brown pine’, this tree has a yellowish-brown bark. It is found in tropical Asian evergreen forests and can grow up to 30m tall.

Black Pine is often used for construction, furniture and instruments.

This tree is on the lower scale of the CITEs, however it is protected in Nepal due to their forest protection policy.

Region: Asia

5)   Bois de Rose (Dalbergia Louvelii)

Dalbergia Louvelii Dalbergia Louvelii

Restricted due to natural habitat risk (in Madagascar only) (III)

Also known as Madagascar Rosewood, some call this the most beautiful of all exotic woods due to its unusually colouring; a natural pink.

The wood has a fine grain, making it suitable for musical instrument making.

There has been huge controversy over rosewood logging within the national parks in Madagascar. Therefore Madagascar government have placed restrictions on access to the wood to ensure long term sustainability.

Region: Madagascar.

6)    Brazilwood (Caesalpinia Echinata)

Caesalpinia Echinata Caesalpinia Echinata

Species at risk in wild (II)

This tree is part of a species of Brazilian timber tree that are also part of the pea family.

Brazilwood is responsible for the country’s name, Brazil, due to common associate these trees had with the landscape at the point of the country’s independence.

This particular wood has dense, orange-red heartwood that has a high shine once polished. It is the premium wood for making bows for stringed instruments.

Region: Brazil

7)   Cedar, Spanish (Cedrela Odorata)

Cedrela Odorata Cedrela Odorata

Restricted due to natural habitat risk (in Brazil, Boliva, Columbia, Guatemala and Peru) (II)

Neither Spanish nor a Cedar, ‘Spanish Cedar’ is the common trading name for this wood. It’s actually closely related to Mahoganies.

It’s a lightweight timber that is the traditional wood for cigar boxes and often used for guitar necks and lining. Furthermore due to its good resistance to termites and other wood boring insects, it is also used for general outdoor and construction work.

Region: Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina.

8)    Cocobolo (Dalbergia Retusa)

Dalbergia Retusa Dalbergia Retusa

Species at risk in wild (II)

Only the heartwood of this tree is used, which is an orange or reddish-brown colour with a darker brown streaks producing a stripy effect throughout the grain.

Due to the dramatic colour of this wood, it is often used for ornamental purposes.

Region: Central America.

9)    Ebony (Diospyros Spp.)

Diospyros Spp Diospyros Spp

Restricted due to natural habitat risk (in Madagascar only) (III)

Ebony is a dark and dense wood that has a very smooth finish when polished; it’s often used for ornamental purposes.

As a result of unsustainable harvesting, many species yielding ebony are now considered threatened. Madagascar has approved status to restrict the commercial trade of this wood.

Region: Madagascar (though grown across Africa).

10) Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum spp.)

Guaiacum Spp. Guaiacum Spp.

Species at risk in wild (II)

This is the densest wood in commercial trade according to the Janka Scale of Hardness. Traditionally this wood has been a popular export crop to Europe because of its extraordinary combination of strength, toughness and density.

The wood has been used for mortal and pestles and mallets. It has also been associated with a wide variety of sports equipment, such as cricket bails, lawn bowls, croquet mallets and skittles balls.

Region: Caribbean and Northern Coast of South America.

11) Mahogany (Swietenia)

Swietenia Swietenia

Species at risk in wild (II)

Many types of Mahogany are at risk, especially the ‘genuine mahogany’ species within the genus Swietenia. This wood is prized for its beauty, durability and rich colour.

Peru is now the biggest exporter of mahogany, since Brazil banned exports of Mahogany in 2001. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of Peruvian mahogany exported to the United States is illegally harvested.

Region: Florida, Caribbean, Mexico and Central America to Bolivia.

12) Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria Araucana)

Araucaria Araucana Araucaria Araucana

Threatened with extinction (I)

The Monkey Puzzle is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 40m and live for possibly as long as 1,000 years. The wood was once valued for the long straight trunk, however this tree is now listed on the most protected scale of the CITEs.

Alongside the timber, this tree is also used for food. Its seeds are edible and similar to large pine nuts; however it does not produce seeds until it is 30 to 40 years old. This has historically prevented the tree being used for crop purposes, even though the eventual seeds grow in abundance.
Region: Central and Southern Chile and Western Argentina.

13) Ramin (Gonystylus Spp.)

Gonystylus Spp. Gonystylus Spp.

Species at risk in wild (II)

This is a medium sized tree which reaches around 24m in height. It is slow growing and usually thrives in swamp forests. An attraction of Ramin wood is that the trunk is mainly branch free until the top of the tree’s canopy, meaning the straight trunk is easy to work this.

Region: Southeast Asia

14) Rosewood (various)

Rosewood Rosewood

Species at risk in wild (I & II)

There are numerous species of Rosewood and many of them are on the CITEs list. Rosewood is a term used to describe timber with a rich hue; often a brownish colour with darker veining throughout the grain.

Because of their interesting colouring, Rosewood is used for a variety of ornamental pieces and has a high commercial value.

Region: (On CITEs) Brazil, Honduras, Madagascar and Thailand.

15) Sandalwood, Red (Pterocarpus Santalinus)

Pterocarpus Santalinus Pterocarpus Santalinus

Species at risk in wild (II)

This wood has a rich red colour which is prized for ornamental pieces. It is considered sacred in Hinduism, priests extensively use this particular wood for many of their rituals.

Historically this wood has been highly valued in China. Still today, illegally exporting this wood to China is one of the main trades of smugglers in India.

Region: South India.

16) Stinkwood, Red (Prunus Africana)

Prunus Africana Prunus Africana

Species at risk in wild (II)

Traditionally parts of this tree have been used for medicine; extracts have been included in a herbal remedy for patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, though clinical trials have not yet been conducted.

The timber is a hardwood which is tough, heavy and straight grained. The colour of the wood is pink and it produces a bitter-almond smell when first cut, yet turns mahogany coloured and odourless later.

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Soa Tome, Fernanda Po and Grande Comore.

17) Verawood (Bulnesia Sarmientoi)

Bulnesia Sarmientoi Bulnesia Sarmientoi

Species at risk in wild (II)

Closely related to Lignum Vitae trees, this is a flowering tree. The colour of the timber can range from a yellowish olive to a brown to an almost black colour; the wood tends to darken with age and exposure to light.

The wood produces a distinct, perfume-like fragrance that lingers even after it has been machined.

Region: Central America and Northern South America.






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