Resolution Conf. 11.11 (Rev. CoP15)

Regulation of trade in plants

RECALLING Resolution Conf. 9.18 (Rev.), adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting (Fort Lauderdale, 1994) and amended at its 10th meeting (Harare, 1997), relating to the implementation of CITES for plants;

AWARE that the Convention provides measures for international cooperation for the protection of certain species of wild plants against over-exploitation through international trade;

AWARE that the text of the Convention and several of the Resolutions of the Conference of the Parties on plants may not or could not have been drafted in the light of modern developments in plant propagation and of the trade in artificially propagated plants;

RECALLING the many specific problems the Parties to the Convention have faced and still face in implementing the Convention for plants;

RECOGNIZING that there are unique aspects of the plant trade and plant biology, such as those related to flasked orchid seedlings, that are not considered analogous to those for animals and that a different approach for plants is sometimes necessary;

RECOGNIZING that the control of the trade in flasked seedlings of orchids from closed nursery systems generally is not considered to be relevant to the protection of the natural populations of orchid species;

RECOGNIZING that many of the problems associated with regulating international trade in plants under the Convention involve artificially propagated specimens;

RECOGNIZING also that the provisions of Article III of the Convention remain the basis for permitting trade in specimens of Appendix-I species of plants that do not qualify for the exemptions of paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article VII;

NOTING that import of wild-collected specimens of Appendix-I plant species for purposes of establishing a commercial operation for artificial propagation is precluded by Article III, paragraph 3 (c), of the Convention, as explained further in Resolution Conf. 5.10 (Rev. CoP15), adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its fifth meeting (Buenos Aires, 1985) and amended at its 15th meeting (Doha, 2010);

OBSERVING that certain Parties that authorize export of large quantities of artificially propagated plants need to find ways of reducing paperwork while maintaining protection for wild plants, and helping exporters of artificially propagated plants to understand and to comply with the requirements of the Convention;

AWARE that plant specimens may legally enter international trade under exemptions from the provisions of CITES, provided by an annotation, and that the qualification for such an exemption may cease outside the country of origin;

AWARE that such specimens need CITES permits or certificates for subsequent international trade;

RECOGNIZING that, in the absence of an export permit issued in the country of origin, it may be difficult to issue such CITES permits or certificates;


Regarding the definition of ‘artificially propagated’

ADOPTS the following definitions for terms used in this Resolution:

a)    ‘under controlled conditions’ means in a non-natural environment that is intensively manipulated by human intervention for the purpose of plant production. General characteristics of controlled conditions may include but are not limited to tillage, fertilization, weed and pest control, irrigation, or nursery operations such as potting, bedding or protection from weather;

b)    ‘cultivated parental stock’ means the ensemble of plants grown under controlled conditions that are used for reproduction, and which must have been, to the satisfaction of the designated CITES authorities of the exporting country:

  i) established in accordance with the provisions of CITES and relevant national laws and in a manner not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild; and
  ii)  maintained in sufficient quantities for propagation so as to minimize or eliminate the need for augmentation from the wild, with such augmentation occurring only as an exception and limited to the amount necessary to maintain the vigour and productivity of the cultivated parental stock; and

c)    'cultivar' means, following the definition of the 8th edition of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, an assemblage of plants that (a) has been selected for a particular character or combination of characters, (b) is distinct, uniform, and stable in these characters, and (c) when propagated by appropriate means, retains those characters (but see Article 9.1 Note 1)1

DETERMINES that the term ‘artificially propagated’ shall be interpreted to refer to plant specimens:

a)    grown under controlled conditions; and

b)    grown from seeds, cuttings, divisions, callus tissues or other plant tissues, spores or other propagules that either are exempt from the provisions of the Convention or have been derived from cultivated parental stock;

DETERMINES that plants grown from cuttings or divisions are considered to be artificially propagated only if the traded specimens do not contain any material collected from the wild; and

RECOMMENDS that an exception may be granted and specimens deemed to be artificially propagated if grown from wild-collected seeds or spores only if, for the taxon involved:

a) i) the establishment of a cultivated parental stock presents significant difficulties in practice because specimens take a long time to reach reproductive age, as for many tree species;
  ii) the seeds or spores are collected from the wild and grown under controlled conditions within a range State, which must also be the country of origin of the seeds or spores;
  iii) the relevant Management Authority of that range State has determined that the collection of seeds or spores was legal and consistent with relevant national laws for the protection and conservation of the species; and
  iv) the relevant Scientific Authority of that range State has determined that:
    A. collection of the seeds or spores was not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild; and
    B. allowing trade in such specimens has a positive effect on the conservation of wild populations;
b) at a minimum, to comply with subparagraphs a) iv) A. and B. above:
  i)  collection of seeds or spores for this purpose is limited in such a manner such as to allow regeneration of the wild population;
  ii) a portion of the plants produced under such circumstances is used to establish plantations to serve as cultivated parental stock in the future and become an additional source of seeds or spores and thus reduce or eliminate the need to collect seeds or spores from the wild; and
  iii) a portion of the plants produced under such circumstances is used for replanting in the wild, to enhance recovery of existing populations or to re-establish populations that have been extirpated; and
c) in the case of operations propagating Appendix-I species for commercial purposes under such conditions they are registered with the CITES Secretariat in accordance with Resolution Conf. 9.19 (Rev. CoP15) on Guidelines for the registration of nurseries exporting artificially propagated specimens of Appendix-I species;

Regarding grafted plants


a)    grafted plants be recognized as artificially propagated only when both the root-stock and the graft have been taken from specimens that have been artificially propagated in accordance with the definition above; and

b)    grafted specimens consisting of taxa from different Appendices be treated as specimens of the taxon included in the more restrictive Appendix;

Regarding hybrids


a)    hybrids shall be subject to the provisions of the Convention even though not specifically included in the Appendices if one or both of their parents are of taxa included in the Appendices, unless the hybrids are excluded from CITES controls by a specific annotation in Appendix II or III; and

b)    regarding artificially propagated hybrids:

  i)  plant species or other taxa included in Appendix I shall be annotated (in accordance with Article XV) if the provisions relevant to the most restrictive Appendix are to apply;
  ii) if a plant species or other taxon included in Appendix I is annotated, an export permit or re-export certificate shall be required for trade in specimens of all artificially propagated hybrids derived from it; but
  iii) artificially propagated hybrids derived from one or more unannotated Appendix-I species or other taxa shall be regarded as being included in Appendix II and entitled therefore to all exemptions applicable to artificially propagated specimens of species included in Appendix II;

Regarding cultivars

DETERMINES that cultivars shall be subject to the provisions of the Convention unless excluded by a specific annotation in Appendix I, II or III;

Regarding flasked seedlings of Appendix-I orchids

RECOMMENDS that flasked seedlings of orchid species included  in Appendix I obtained in vitro, in solid or liquid media, and transported in sterile containers, be interpreted as being exempt from CITES control only if they have been artificially propagated in accordance with the definition provided above, taking into account the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 4, and Article I, paragraph (b) (iii), and agreeing to a derogation from Resolution Conf. 9.6 (Rev.) for this exemption;

Regarding plant specimens in international trade under exemptions

DETERMINES that specimens that cease to qualify for an exemption from the provisions of CITES, under which they were legally exported and imported, are deemed to originate in the country in which they cease to qualify for the exemption;

Regarding enforcement for plants

RECOMMENDS that Parties ensure that:

a)    enforcement officers are adequately informed of CITES requirements, procedures governing inspection and clearance of CITES plant specimens, and procedures necessary for the detection of illegal trade;

b)    enforcing agencies obtain access to materials and expertise enabling identification of plant specimens in trade, including whether the specimens are of wild or artificially propagated origin;

c)    enforcing agencies utilize annual reports, plant health documents, nursery catalogues and other sources of information to detect possible illegal trade;

d)    enforcing agencies maintain close liaison with the Management and Scientific Authorities for the purpose of setting and implementing enforcement priorities; and

e)    material in trade is carefully checked in order to improve enforcement and in particular that plants declared to have been artificially propagated are checked both on import and on export;

Regarding trade in salvaged plant specimens


a)    whenever possible, Parties ensure programmes of environment modification do not threaten the survival of plant species included in the CITES Appendices, and that protection of Appendix-I species in situ be considered as a national and international obligation;

b)    Parties establish salvaged specimens in cultivation where concerted attempts have failed to ensure that such programmes do not put at risk wild populations of species included in the CITES Appendices; and

c)    international trade in salvaged specimens of Appendix-I plants, and of Appendix-II plants whose entry into trade might otherwise have been considered detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild, be permitted where all of the following conditions are met:

  i)  such trade would clearly enhance the survival of the species, albeit not in the wild;
  ii)  import is for the purposes of care and propagation of the species; and
  iii) import is by bona fide botanic garden or scientific institution; and

Regarding education about plant conservation through CITES


a)    Parties routinely provide updates of information on all aspects of CITES implementation for plants for publication in scientific, horticultural or plant trade journals and in the publications of plant associations;

b)    Parties regularly provide updates of information on all aspects of CITES implementation to botanic gardens, tourist organizations and relevant non-governmental organizations for further dissemination to the general public;

c)    Parties develop and maintain a good liaison with national plant-trade organizations, to inform them about all aspects of the implementation of CITES for plants, and to communicate to the Secretariat specific implementation problems presented by these national organizations, for consideration by the Plants Committee;

d)    the Secretariat develop and maintain a good liaison with international plant-trade organizations and botanic garden associations (in particular with the International Association of Botanic Gardens and Botanic Gardens Conservation International); and

e)    the Secretariat distribute information on the potential conservation benefits that may be derived from artificial propagation and, where appropriate, encourage artificial propagation as an alternative to the removal of specimens from the wild; and

REPEALS Resolution Conf. 9.18 (Rev.) (Fort Lauderdale, 1994, as amended at Harare, 1997) – Regulation of trade in plants.


* Amended at the 13th, 14th and 15th meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

1 Article 9.1 Note 1 states that no new taxon of cultivated plants (including a cultivar) can be regarded as such until its category name and circumscription have been formally published.


Number / Code: 
Conf. 11.11 (Rev. CoP15)
COP meeting: 
Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties