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Tuesday
Dec112007

Has the yew tide turned?

taxus_chinese_report.jpgTRAFFIC’s report: Trade and conservation of Taxus in China is available only in Chinese.  Beijing, China, 11 December 2007—A recent TRAFFIC report, Trade and conservation of Taxus in China, sheds light on China’s role in the continuing and unsustainable trade in wild Yew trees in the Genus Taxus, whose bark and needles are harvested for the production of anti-cancer medicines.

The industry, which began in 1992, depleted 90% of wild Taxus populations in parts of Yunnan province, the heart of Taxus distribution in China.

The future of the industry in China is now tied to successful development of Taxus plantations. However, artificial propagation of Taxus is still in its early phases and cannot meet current demand. Government and industry need to ensure that Taxus plantation supplies are a viable substitute to wild harvest, otherwise pressure on wild Taxus resources will continue to increase.

Meanwhile, China has promulgated laws and regulations concerning the trade in Taxus, but more action is needed. For example, the technology for extracting cancer medicines from Taxus bark and needles needs improvements in efficiency, especially among small-scale companies with lower extraction rates, to reduce the need for more, and possibly illegally harvested, Taxus resources.

Government policies and programmes can aid the sustainable development of the Taxus industry, through national investment guidelines for the industry as a whole and for individual companies, coupled with improved monitoring and tracking of Taxus materials.

“Over most of China, wild Taxus has been lost to future generations,” said Xu Hongfa, Director of TRAFFIC’s China programme.

“China’s Taxus industry is a case study in China’s rapid economic development and the resulting depletion of natural resources.

In 2004, four species of Asian Taxus were listed in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), thereby placing controls on their international trade.

“China must actively implement CITES provisions to protect wild Taxus populations in countries that now support China’s growing Taxus industry,” said Xu.

Trade and conservation of Taxus in China (2.3 MB, in Chinese)

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