Africa’s Mukula Trees Score a Victory as Trade is Put Under Closer Scrutiny

Rosewood is coveted for its colour Winai Tepsuttinun/Shutterstock

By Paolo Omar Cerutti And Nils Bourland

CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – has decided to include Mukula trees, one of many rosewood species, in its Annex II listing. Species covered by CITES are listed in three Annexes according to how much protection they need. Annex II includes species not directly threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to ensure their survival.

Mukula – Pterocarpus tinctorius – is the local name for rosewood harvested in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Even though it is not one of the tree species labelled as “rosewood” under China’s official list, traders and consumers still want it for its colour and strength. When freshly cut and debarked, Mukula’s timber has a bright brown-reddish colour – produced by oils and chemicals it contains – which turns to darker brown with time and exposure to light. These oils are also what make the wood durable.

As a result Mukula became part of the wider rosewood trade that affects much of southeast Asia and parts of Africa and South America…Read more>>


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