Breaking the law is breaking the law unfortunately, how ever stupid the law is. However, what I'm worried about with CITEs is the way it makes all the plants stay in one location. If the plants are not widespread in cultivation, and some natural disaster wipes out there natural home, what then? The only reason lots of people want to poach them from the wild is because they're not common in cultivation, so although restricting how you can sell seeds is maybe helping, in the long run it's just making them more rarer in cultivation, so people who do get away with poaching are making more money off them, and will want to do it more. Which is REALLY helping the situation.
If a lot of the seeds and plants were in cultivation, then they'd be worth no more than any other sarr, so a lot of the poaching would go down, because who would go to the trouble of poaching 'common' plants?
Just my two cents worth
I largely agree with this. If there's one thing I recommend to plant enthusiasts it's to not keep all their eggs in the same basket.
When it comes to dissemination...incentives matter. It takes time, energy and effort to disseminate a plant. All that time and energy could be put to other uses. Therefore the benefit of distributing a plant has to exceed the opportunity cost in order for the effort to be "worth" it.
So if you want a plant to go from rare/scarce to common/abundant
...then respect and appreciate the profit involved. Without that incentive...the alternative uses of people's time and energy become more attractive. Without profit, there's not enough incentive to figure out how to take something that's scarce and make it more abundant. Without profit, there's no way to truly know what other people value. Resources can't flow in the most valuable directions if we don't know what people truly value.
Regarding the efficacy of CITES...here are some passages from Harold Koopowitz's book Orchids and their Conservation
The chance that [CITES] listing would even help in their rescue from extinction is uncertain and the lists become difficult to regulate if they become too cumbersome. Many of the species referred to here are not threatened by trade but by land conversion and deforestation. In addition, other species will become extinct without our ever being aware that they were threatened, while others will become extinct without us even being aware of their existence. One can predict that, as the ineffectiveness of CITES to save species becomes ever more widely appreciated, the reluctance to support the convention will become more evident.
The usual pattern, however, is more like that of Zambia where it is legal to turn a branch bearing live orchids into charcoal but it is illegal to take the orchids off the branch to export before burning the wood.
Consider another scenario. You are a professor at a major university and one of your doctoral students calls from Costa Rica. He has picked up some orchid plants from broken branches on the forest floor. The usual fate of orchids that fall is premature death. This is a young man who is intensely committed to conservation and hates to see anything die. You have to tell him to abandon the plants because it would be too difficult for him to get CITES papers.
<title>Could the money have been better spent?</title> The amount of money spent annually to enforce CITES must be enormous. To this must be added the cost of travelling to the various meetings of committees and conventions. If only part of the money spent on CITES over the last 25 years had been made available to actual and real conservation activities, such as buying up forested lands or policing preserves, the world would now be a better place and conservation would have been far better served.
The question is...how much does America value in-situ conservation? Well...we can tally how much money people give to non-profit organizations dedicated to purchasing/protecting habitats. But surely some people feel like some portion of their tax dollars are being used to protect endangered species. Perhaps they don't make donations to conservation non-profits because they feel that they are already contributing via their taxes.
The solution is to allow taxpayers to choose where their taxes go. It's the solution in the sense that it would allow us to determine exactly where America's heart is. Where people put their treasure reveals where their heart is. The Bible got that one right.
Step 1: Allow people to choose where their taxes go
Step 2: Discern the disparity between where America's heart is and where it should be
Step 3: Disseminate the relevant information to try and help people change their priorities
To learn more please read this tax choice FAQ
Now, how many countries have a government organization dedicated to protecting the environment? What are the chances that all of them are equally effective? What are the chances that all habitats are equally important/valuable? I think that people shouldn't be limited to only giving taxes to their government...they should be free to give their taxes to any government. So if you think that the Brazilian EPA is creating more value than our EPA is...then you should be free to allocate your taxes accordingly. This would be a global free trade agreement for public goods