I Do Not Understand the Preservation of Teak


I Do Not Understand the Preservation of Teak


I thing the countries become parties to the agreement and then pass local laws. I think your are correct it is an export tax by the Togo government. It will maintain local supply and keep people happy with cost of living and the tax will support the government. The world wants teak and the government wants in on the deal.


Correct the "government wants in on the deal." Here in Togo there is too much Teak, it will eventually be the only type of tree that is large. The locals cut up tree, make into charcoal, and cook. I am hoping the branches of Teak are adequate, but wood in Togo is a cooking fuel. But, one type of tree, monocropping is not good either.

Bob the Squid

There are multiple species of trees that are called "teak".

"African teak" is the Pericopsis elata species https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericopsis_elata. It is on the IUCN Red List for endangered species (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/33191/0) and is listed in CITES Appendix II, meaning that it's not in immediate danger of extinction but could become so.

The teak most everyone thinks of when you say "teak" is Tectona grandis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teak. This teak species is the one that is native to Asia but is now cultivated in Africa. It is not considered to be endangered, so you should be able to export it to the USA.


The reason that CITES exists is to put the brakes on the wholesale destruction of highly profitable and desirable products. In this case, the planet’s entire forests are the product. The problem that’s baffling you is why plantation teak needs to be CITES certified since it is sustainable. It is simply this: Once the teak lumber arrives in the US or the EU there is simply no way to trace back to whether it was legally harvested from a plantation or illegally harvested in the wild. So they're are trying to register the lumber at the point of origin and that’s what CITES Permit process does. It proves to a buyer in the US or EU that you are a legal and ethical provider of tropical timber.

Illegally logging of tropical timber is decimating forests (actually completely destroying the forests of entire nations) Those forests are vital to the viability of the region’s ecosystems. Once the forests are gone, the climate and viability of that area changes - sometimes to the point of being uninhabitable. The problem is it is difficult to tell whether lumber was illegally harvested or sustainably harvested. There is no manpower to go around and count the rings on each piece of imported lumber so they are trying to regulate it at the source.

My suggestion would be to buy from a CITES permitted wholesaler or plantation and just piggyback on their permit so you don’t have to go through a separate permitting process. My first question to a plantation owner or timber yard would be can you CITES Certify this wood for me? Since they are the source it should be their responsibility not your. If the purveyors you are in touch with don’t haves a CITES permit good chance the products they are dealing in are illegally harvested,whether in Africa or imported to Africa from Asia and being passed off as African teak.

There is a ground swell of international cooperation (regulation) being put into place to stem the flow of decimation. 10-20 years ago you wouldn’t have had any problem importing wood. Now it’s become a regulated item because the planet is coming to realize if we ain’t got no trees we are going to turn into a giant dust bowl.

Loggers in Africa are guilty of clear cutting mahogany the same way teak forests are being destroyed in Asia so trees coming out of Africa are as suspect as those coming out of Asia. Unfortunately plantation teak gets caught up in the blowback and has to be regulated too so it’s clear that wasnt illegally harvested at the source (which cant really be verified at the end point like certification at the source can.

They are just trying to put the brakes on something that has real consequences that is currently a runaway truck heading out of control downhill. Some gut could import wood into the US and easily say “Oh its teak grown on a planatation in Africa, not clear cut in Asia. How do we know unless it is certified at the source as being sustainably harvested? We don’t.

Check out this graphic of the forests that used to be in Cote D’ivoire in 1955 vs today.


(In the next link specially check out the pdf titled: ATO/ITTO principles, criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of African natural tropical forests.)

Some more FYI.





I can buy directly from Togo government controlled plantations. ODEF - Office de Developpement et d Exploitation des Forets. All the explanations appear great, and probably excellent in Canada, or USA, maybe UK, etc. I am hard pressed to see how CITES is doing much more than helping large plantations, and governments to collect bribes. The way bribes work, you create a rule, then pay to go around the rule. This is how 200 plus countries pay their police forces, it is hard to say the police would exist if paid with tax money in 200 countries.

The exporting of Teak in Africa appears to be to India. Yet, I have talked to ODEF, and at first understanding of this government office, it is hard to see a big picture understanding there.

It appears to almost impossible to find "African Teak," or Fake Teak, the Pericopsis elata. and it does seem to be on CITES list of endangered. But, Tectona Grandis so far does not appear to be on the CITES list.

As normal with government rules, I am going to need to ship some Teak to the USA, or Germany and fish out, cull out the rules as the governments, CITES put out their hands to collect money.

What is sad about corruption, yet great for the business man is this, there is always a fee that can be paid, a bribe that can make the rule, law, or problem disappear. This is reality, this is the playing field.

In reality, in Togo every free spot that was decimated 100 years ago by lumber people is now being planted to Teak, so the small families may be planting the rain forest again, maybe they will come back because of the small scale growth of teak, really nothing to do with the plantations, CITES, or governments, just finally small scale growth. Growing trees for 30 to 50 years is not exactly what investors can do. If you look at the use of teak in markets, it appears to be small size boards for outdoor furniture.

If they want long term forests, they need to outlaw lawn furniture. LOL. This is all interesting stuff to study, and the rules, laws make money for me, they do not hurt me. The more rules, laws, the more difficult ,and less competition. I have yet to find anyone in Togo exporting lumber to the USA or Europe.

All the reading in the world does not make reality change.

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