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Dalbergia Sissoo [Indian Rosewood]

Dalbergia sissoo, commonly known as North Indian Rosewood or Sheesham, is a large deciduous multi-purpose timber tree that grows abundantly in India. This plant was recently in the news when CITES COP19 pronounced a ruling that eased certain restrictions pertaining to its export giving relief to Indian exporters. In this article, you can read all about Dalbergia Sissoo, the issues related to it and the CITES ruling. This topic is important for the UPSC exam environment and economy segments.

Dalbergia sissoo

Dalbergia sissoo is a large deciduous multi-purpose timber tree.

Dalbergia sissoo

Image source: www.hindustantimes.com

  • It belongs to the genus Dalbergia.
  • It is a fast-growing tree native to the Indian subcontinent and southern Iran.
  • It grows up to 25 m (82 ft) in height and 2 – 3 m (6 ft 7 inch – 9 ft 10 inch) in width. 
  • It can withstand average rainfall of up to 2,000 millimetres (79 inches) and droughts of 3-4 months.
  • Dalbergia sissoo is best known internationally as a premier species of the rosewood genus. It is also an important fuel wood, shade, shelter and fodder tree.
  • After teak, it is the most important cultivated timber tree in India, planted on roadsides, and as a shade tree for tea plantations. 
  • With its multiple products, tolerance of light frosts and long dry seasons, this species deserves more significant consideration for agroforestry applications.

CITES Status of Dalbergia sissoo

At the CITES COP17 meeting in Johannesburg in 2016, the entire genus of Dalbergia including Dalbergia sissoo was placed under Appendix Ⅱ, following complaints from a number of South American and African countries that a rise in interest in the wood of Dalbergia in international markets, primarily in China was fuelling an illegal trade which was decimating Dalbergia population. (Appendix II species: They are those species that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit).

Know more about CITES in the link.

  • Due to this restriction, exports of furniture and handicrafts made of Dalbergia sissoo from India have been continuously falling from an estimated 1000 crore Indian Rupees (~129 million USD) per annum before the listing, to 500-600 crore Indian Rupees (~64 to 77 million USD) per annum after the listing.
  • At CITES COP19 – The 19th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES COP19 was held in Panama City (14th – 25th November 2022).
    • The Conference of Parties 19 did not agree to delist the genus Dalbergia from CITES Appendix II, though the species Dalbergia sissoo is not threatened and is found in abundance. Concerns were expressed regarding the challenges in distinguishing different species of Dalbergia in their finished forms.
    • However, relief was given in terms of weight which will help artisans to a great extent and will boost the export of articles. After sustained deliberations by Indian representatives, it was agreed upon that any number of Dalbergia Sissoo timber-based items can be exported as a single consignment in a shipment without CITES permits if the weight of each item of the consignment is less than 10kg. Also, it was agreed that for the net weight of each item only timber will be considered and any other material like metal, etc. will be ignored.

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