Non-detriment findings

In accordance with Articles III and IV of the Convention, export permits for specimens of species included in Appendices I and II shall be granted only when a Scientific Authority of the State of export has advised that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species (a determination known as a 'non-detriment finding' or NDF).

Provisions of the Convention

Article III states that the import of specimens of Appendix I-listed species requires import permits that shall only be granted when a Scientific Authority of the State of import has advised that the import will be for purposes, which are not detrimental to the survival of the species involved. 

Article IV furthermore requires that a Scientific Authority monitors exports of specimens of Appendix II-listed species and, whenever necessary, advises the Management Authority of suitable measures to be taken to limit such exports in order to maintain such species throughout their range at a level consistent with their role in the ecosystems and well above the level at which they would qualify for Appendix I.

Resolutions and Decisions

Other Resolutions and Decisions that mention and provide advice on NDFs can be found on the Resolutions and Decisions pages.

Capacity building material

Please click here to go to training materials, guidance on NDFs and other related documents.

Current policies on NDFs

  • Resolution 10.3 on the Designation and role of the Scientific Authorities stipulates that the advice of Scientific Authorities be based on the scientific review of available information on the population status, distribution, population trend, harvest and other biological and ecological factors, as appropriate, and trade information relating to the species concerned.

  • Resolution Conf. 16.7 (Rev. CoP17) on Non-detriment findings recommends that a non-detriment finding for an Appendix-I or -II species is the result of a science-based assessment that verifies whether a proposed export is detrimental to the survival of that species or not. NDFs should consider whether the species would be maintained throughout its range at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs. The Resolution also recommends concepts and non-binding guiding principles that Scientific Authorities should take into account when considering whether trade would be detrimental to the survival of a species, including data and information requirements, methodologies, species monitoring and management, and relevant sources of information.

  • In Resolution Conf. 13.2 on Sustainable use of biodiversity: Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines, Parties were urged, when adopting NDF processes and making CITES NDFs, to make use of the Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2004) taking into account scientific, trade and enforcement considerations determined by national circumstances. At CoP14 (The Hague, 2007), Parties further agreed to take into consideration some recommendations on this point made by the Animals and Plants Committees. These are contained in Annex 2 to the revised Resolution Conf. 13.2 (Rev. CoP14). The Committees advised that, although the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines are not always immediately applicable to the decision-making process under CITES, particularly with respect to making NDFs, they could nevertheless support the existing IUCN guidance for the making of NDFs and would be valuable for the development of taxon-specific guidelines, for instance for tree species. They highlighted Principles 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 which, on a case-by-case basis, may be considered for possible development of further taxon-specific NDF guidelines.

  • In Resolution Conf. 14.7 (Rev. CoP15) on Management of nationally established quotas, the Parties recognized the linkage between export quotas and NDFs and adopted guidelines to manage these quotas. In particular, they agreed that an export quota system is a management tool, used to ensure that exports of specimens of a certain species are maintained at a level that has no detrimental effect on the population of the species. The setting of an export quota advised by a Scientific Authority effectively meets the requirement of CITES to make an NDF for species included in Appendix I or II and, for species in Appendix II, to ensure that the species is maintained throughout its range at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystems in which it occurs. When export quotas are established for the first time or revised, this should be as a result of an NDF by a Scientific Authority and this NDF should be reviewed annually.

Updates on NDFs

In response to Decision 18.132 (a), the Secretariat published an inventory and review of apparent gaps and needs for updated or additional guidance on making NDFs: AC31 Doc. 14.1/ PC25 Doc. 17.

At the 31st meeting of the Animals Committee, and the 25th meeting of the Plants Committee (online, May 2021), both Committees discussed the review of apparent gaps and needs to identify priorities for additional or improved NDF guidance materials, and Germany announced its financial support, in line with Decisions 18.132 – 134, to:

  1. Develop new or improved draft NDF guidance to address gaps and weaknesses in NDF guidance currently available to CITES Parties;
  2. Organize an international interdisciplinary expert workshop to review, advance or complete the new or improved guidance materials;
  3. Test the new NDF guidance on the ground to evaluate its use by CITES Scientific Authorities in support of making NDFs, and adjust the guidance as need be; and
  4. Make the NDF guidance resources globally available through the CITES website and other channels as appropriate, promote uptake and use, and offer the means for Parties to provide feedback to enable future adaptations as needed.

Guidance on NDFs

  • In 1992, the CoP adopted Resolution Conf. 8.6 on the Role of the Scientific Authority. It directed the Secretariat to prepare general guidelines for conducting appropriate scientific reviews by Scientific Authorities to make findings as required in Articles III, IV and V of the Convention; and to provide these guidelines to the Animals Committee and Plants Committee for review.

  • At CoP10 (Harare, 1997), Resolution Conf. 8.6 was replaced by Resolution Conf. 10.3* on Designation and role of the Scientific Authorities. With this change, the instruction to prepare general guidelines for conducting appropriate scientific reviews by Scientific Authorities was replaced by an encouragement to the Parties, the Secretariat and interested non-governmental organizations to develop and support workshops and seminars designed specifically to improve the implementation of CITES by Scientific Authorities. In response, IUCN led a workshop in October 1998 and another in October 1999, the second under contract from the Secretariat. These resulted in a report: CITES Scientific Authorities’ Checklist to assist in making Non-detriment Findings for Appendix II Exports. The report was made available at CoP11 (Gigiri, 2000) as document Inf. 11.3 and was subsequently been published by IUCN (Rosser and Haywood, 2002). The Checklist helps identify the factors that should be taken into account when making NDFs and assists Scientific Authorities in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the information at their disposal.

  • On the initiative of Mexico, through document CoP14 Doc. 35 presented at CoP14, the Parties decided to call for an international expert workshop on NDFs to enhance CITES Scientific Authorities’ capacities, particularly those related to the methodologies, tools, information, expertise and other resources needed to formulate NDFs. The resulting International Expert Workshop on CITES Non-Detriment Findings was held in Cancún, Mexico from 17 to 22 November 2008. It was attended by 103 participants from 33 countries of the six CITES regions.

  • Subsequent to this workshop, multiple guidance materials were developed by CITES Parties and stakeholders, often directed by CoP Decisions for specific taxa, including through dedicated programs, such as the CITES Tree Species Programme (CTSP).

  • Arising from this initiative and on the basis of a proposal from the Animals and Plants Committees, the Conference of the Parties adopted at CoP16 Resolution Conf. 16.7 on Non-detriment findings which inter alia provides a number of concepts and non-binding guiding principles for Scientific Authorities to take into account in considering whether trade may be detrimental to the survival of a species. The Resolution further encourages Parties to maintain written records of the science-based rationale for NDF assessments, to explore methods for making NDFs, to share their experiences and provide assistance to developing countries to improve their capacity to make NDFs.

  • Decisions 18.132 -134 direct the Secretariat, and the Animals and Plants Committee, in consultation with Parties, to build on these efforts to inventory and review available NDF guidance, and to address apparent gaps and needs by updating or developing additional materials.

  • The Secretariat provides a dedicated database in which NDF materials can be shared, accessed, and searched by taxonomic group and country. 

NDF Reports Database

Click here to access the NDF reports

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