updated 6/7/2007 4:03:40 PM ET 2007-06-07T20:03:40

The iconic tree that gave Brazil its name and the world's violinists their bows got extra protection Thursday to prevent it from sliding toward extinction.

But the conference that overwhelmingly supported protecting brazilwood, or pau brasil in Portuguese, rejected similar moves for three other South American tropical trees.

Brazil welcomed support for its plan to regulate trade in brazilwood timber by delegates at the triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.

The plan will protect the tree — known for its hard, blood-red wood — while allowing it to "continue to be used to delight us in the hands of inspired musicians and orchestras across the world," said Fernando Coimbra, head of the Brazilian delegation.

A single violin bow carved from brazilwood can sell for up to $5,000, the World Conservation Union said. In the past, the tree also was logged and used to make dyes.

Centuries of logging and the clearing of forests along Brazil's coast have wiped out the tree in parts of the country and depleted stands elsewhere. Brazil is the only country where the tree grows in the wild.

The proposal to regulate exports of brazilwood will be formally adopted before the conference concludes at The Hague on June 15.

However, the news was not so good for three other trees — the Spanish cedar and two species of rosewood.

European Union proposals to regulate exports of the timber were blocked by the countries where they grow. South American delegates harshly criticized the plan to protect the Spanish cedar, whose salmon-colored wood is prized by makers of furniture and cigar boxes.

Inclusion on CITES' list of trade-regulated species "could make people think that cedar is a higher value tree," the head of the Peruvian delegation, Edgardo Leguia, told The Associated Press. "It could encourage logging."

The EU reluctantly withdrew the plan rather than have it defeated in a vote. Later, it withdrew proposals covering Honduras rosewood and Black or Nicaraguan rosewood.

Representatives of the EU and South American countries will now meet to find a way out of the impasse, but it was unlikely a CITES listing will be made final at the current meeting.

The rejection was a blow for conservationists who say that the Spanish cedar is threatened by widespread logging, some of it in national parks and protected areas of Peru and other countries.

The EU wanted cedar and the rosewoods listed alongside brazilwood under CITES, a 1975 treaty that regulates exports of threatened plants and animals. It now has more than 7,000 animals and 32,000 plants on its lists.

The protection would not have banned trade but would have allowed exporters to sell only licensed timber that had been logged in a way that did not threaten the species.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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