The Red List covers a huge range of flora and fauna, but the tree species section has not been updated since the late 1990s. The name, the IUCN acknowledges, has also led to an assumption in some areas that species included are endangered by definition.

“Red List does give some people the idea that, if a tree species is included then you should not trade in it,” said Cambridge-based IUCN Red List Unit head Craig Hilton-Taylor.

“But that is not the case. It is not simply proscriptive. It covers a range of threats to species and where, for example, the issue is potential habitat threat or loss, it may well benefit conservation to sustainably manage and harvest the trees.” TTF head of sustainability Anand Punja agreed.

“There may be an assumption that if it’s on the Red List, then you shouldn’t touch it. But there are a lot of nuances involved.”

The IUCN contact with TTF came via mutual links with French-based tropical timber technical and environmental agency ATIBT, which is working with the former to update its information on timber species in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The two intend to continue talks to help TTF members use the Red List as a sustainabilty risk assessment tool. The Federation also aims to identify the 10-15 top species traded by members so that IUCN can focus on updating their risk status.

“It is early days, but we’re keen to work with extractive industries, and to get information flowing both ways to help make the Red List a more effective tool, and minimise its misuse,” said Mr Hilton-Taylor.

He added Red List tree species listings had attracted more interest since the introduction of the EU Timber Regulation.