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    11 November 2003



Ninth meeting

Montreal, 10-14 November 2003

Agenda item 7.1


Implementing target 11 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: discussion paper from the CITES Plants Committee

Note by the Executive Secretary

1. At the request of the Plants Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Executive Secretary is circulating herewith, for the information of participants in the ninth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), a discussion paper from the CITES Plants Committee on implementing target 11 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

2. The discussion paper is being circulated in the form and the language in which it was received by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Implementing Target 11 of the CBD Global Strategy for Plant Conservation –

A discussion paper from the CITES Plants Committee

Prepared by Sara Oldfield (FFI) and supervised by the PC working group on GSPC and the Plants Committee Representatives for CITES

1. Introduction

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims to conserve biodiversity, ensure the sustainable use of biodiversity and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The CBD Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), agreed by the Parties to the CBD in April 2002, sets out specific targets for the conservation and sustainable use of plant biodiversity. The Strategy provides a framework for policy formulation and a basis for monitoring progress in achieving conservation and sustainable use objectives. The Strategy contains 16 ambitious targets to be achieved by the Year 2010. Target 11 of GSPC states: No species of wild flora endangered by international trade.

The overall objectives of CBD share similarities with those of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which aims to protect listed species against over-exploitation caused by international trade and to ensure that this trade is sustainable. The CITES Strategic Plan includes the need for a high degree of co-operation and synergy with CBD. Target 11 of the GSPC is consistent with the main purpose of the CITES Strategic Plan: “No species of wild flora subject to unsustainable exploitation because of international trade”.
In taking forward the GSPC, it has been recommended that CITES act as the lead coordinating agency for the promotion and implementation of Target 11 at a global level. This discussion paper considers how CITES might fulfil this role. The contribution of the work of CITES to the implementation of GSPC is not however limited to Target 11 and Annex 2 to this paper indicates how CITES is contributing more broadly to the implementation of the Strategy.
2. Formulation of Target 11

International trade in wild plants and their products is recognised as one of the threats facing a wide variety of plant species. Target 11 of the GPSC was included in the Strategy both as a response to this global problem and to make a specific link to the objectives and ongoing work of CITES. The wording of Target 11 was formulated to focus specifically on plant species that are actually threatened by international trade. In its formulation it was considered to be complementary to Target 12 of GPSC which refers to the derivation of plant-based products from sources that are sustainably managed. Prior to the adoption of the GSPC, a meeting of Technical Experts held in Gran Canaria in February 2002 recognised the background and baseline information for Target 11 (CBD, 2002) as noted in Annex 1 to this paper. The mechanisms already in place for the implementation of CITES which may be utilised to help meet Target 11 and the activities which need to be strengthened, are noted.

3. Implementation of Target 11
3.1.Clarification and scope of activities
In order to implement Target 11 of the GSPC there needs to be an understanding of which plant species are currently Endangered by international trade so that appropriate conservation action can be taken. It may also be appropriate to look at plant species which are likely to become Endangered over the next few years as a result of international trade unless appropriate action is taken.
“Endangered” in the context of Target 11 may refer to the precise definition used by IUCN or it may refer more broadly to species which are threatened with extinction. The IUCN definition states that a taxon is Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets one of five criteria relating to population size, population decline, geographic range or the results of quantitative analysis and is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. The criterion which relates most nearly to Endangered by trade is A1(c) which refers to a specified rate of reduction in population size based on actual or potential levels of exploitation. Exploitation is however clearly broader than exploitation for trade alone. Information required as part of the Red Listing process includes the major threats faced by the species. The standard list of threats produced by IUCN for Red Listing includes harvesting for food, medicine, fuel, materials and cultural/scientific/leisure activities. Each category is subdivided into local, national and international trade.
Relatively few plant species have been evaluated using the current IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria and so, at present, there is no comprehensive and up-to-date list of globally Endangered plants. There is also little currently compiled information on Endangered plant species which are specifically threatened by trade. The CITES Trade Database maintained by UNEP-WCMC can be used to provide a list of CITES-listed threatened plant species that are in trade but trade may not be the main threat to them. A preliminary attempt was made to draw up a list of threatened tree species, threatened at least in part by exploitation and which are recorded in international trade (WCMC, 1998). This amounted to around 1000 species. No similar analyses are known for other groups of plants.
Within the context of CITES, species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by trade are included in Appendix I of the Convention and can only be exported under exceptional circumstances. Under the CITES listing criteria as recently revised a species "is or may be affected by trade" if:

1. it is known to be in trade, and that trade has or may have a detrimental impact on the status of the species; or

2. it is suspected to be in trade, or there is potential international demand for the species, that may be detrimental to its survival in the wild.

Article II of CITES states that for Appendix I species “trade in specimens of these species must be subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to endanger further their survival and must only be authorized in exceptional circumstances”. Appendix II of CITES includes species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. An export permit is required for Appendix II species subject to a determination that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species and that it complies with national legislation.

At present some plant species that have been classified as Endangered according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria or are likely to qualify when evaluations are carried out are included in Appendix I of CITES and some in Appendix II (see example in Box 1). Approximately 200 plant species are included in CITES Appendix I and over 20,000 in Appendix II which includes the entire Orchidaceae family. The implementation of provisions relating to both Appendix I and II should help to implement Target 11 of GSPC. Furthermore listing of species on CITES Appendix III is another mechanism which can help implement this target.

Box Internationally traded orchids threatened with extinction
Vietnamese orchid species considered to be Endangered in accordance with IUCN Red List categories, based on preliminary evaluations, which are included in Appendix I of CITES include the slipper orchids Paphiopedilum barbigerum var. lockianum, P.callosum, P.dianthum, P. emersonii, P. gratixianum, P. hangianum, P. helenae, P. henryanum, P. malipoense, P. micranthum, P. purpuratum, and P. tranlienianum. These species are considered to be approaching the Critically Endangered category and are directly threatened by illegal international trade. Species of other Vietnamese genera such as Aerides, Calanthe, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis and Vanda, which are also directly threatened by collecting for international trade, are included in Appendix II (Averyanov et al, 2003).

By no means all Endangered plant species, which are threatened at least in part by levels of international trade are currently included in the Appendices of CITES. For some Endangered species, even where these are traded internationally, CITES may not be considered the most appropriate conservation mechanism, for example, by the range states. National measures may be considered more appropriate. This has been the case for example with certain Australian plants listed on CITES in the 1980s and subsequently removed from the Appendices because national legislation was considered more appropriate for the endemic species. Other countries may prefer to develop their capacity for national management of endangered wild plants before committing to CITES regulation. In order for progress to be made towards meeting Target 11 a wide range of conservation measures may need to be considered with significant emphasis on national and local action. Both CITES and CBD recognize the fundamental need to consider livelihood issues in designing conservation strategies. Both Conventions also recognise the role of economic incentives in developing biodiversity conservation.

3.2 Current activities of CITES
The CITES Strategic Plan aims to improve the working of the Convention so that international trade in wild fauna and flora is increasingly and consistently conducted at sustainable levels (CITES Secretariat, 2001). There are seven broad goals each with a number of objectives and action points. The action points are directed to the CITES Secretariat, the Standing Committee, the Animals and Plants Committees, the Conference of the Parties, the Parties and their Scientific and Management Authorities as appropriate. The objectives and action points apply generally to all species groups covered by the Convention with the exception of Objective 4.6 which is: To strengthen knowledge, promote awareness and facilitate enforcement of flora issues in CITES. This objective acknowledges the relatively low priority given to plant species in the implementation of CITES. Action point 4.6.1 directed to the Parties and to the Secretariat states: Ensure that adequate attention is given to plant conservation in all activities related to the implementation of this plan.
Current actions of the CITES Action Plan which are directed to the Plants Committee which may assist in the delivery of Target 11 of the GSPC are outlined in Table 1. Certain actions have been accorded high priority by the Committee members. Additional resourcing will need to be found to take forward all the actions and to align specific ones with delivery of Target 11 of the GSPC. The actions set out in the Action Plan are in addition to the general remit of the Plants Committee which is, to provide advice and guidance to the Conference of the Parties, the other committees, working groups and the Secretariat, on all matters relevant to international trade in plant species included in the Appendices, which may include proposals to amend the Appendices.
Table 1 Plants Committee actions specified in the CITES Action Plan

Action Point


Status and link to GSPC Target 11

Objective 1.7: To improve the coordination between CITES Management and Scientific Authorities and increase the effectiveness of the latter.


Develop a manual specifying obligations and procedures of Scientific Authorities and training

The Secretariat has a programme of work to assist Scientific Authorities which the Plants Committee may assist with particularly on a regional basis. Strenthening the ability of CITES Scientific Authorities to address botanical issues will increase the likelihood of Target 11 being met. This is particularly the case for example with the making of non-detriment findings required for Appendix II species.


Develop regional directories that list the botanists who are experts in CITES-listed species

This has been undertaken and a mechanism now needs to be found to keep it up to date. The directories provide a useful source of expertise for assistance with GSPC Target 11.


Communicate to the Parties the importance & advisability of including plant experts in Scientific Authorties

Remains important to increase effectiveness.

Objective 2.1: To ensure that the Convention’s Appendices correctly reflect the conservation and management needs of species


Regular review of the Appendices to ensure that listed taxa satisfy the relevant criteria

Currently underway for Appendix I cacti. This activity will help to ensure that CITES activities focus on the appropriate species.


Review of Significant Trade

Considered High Priority by the Plants Committee. This is a central activity in the implementation of CITES which helps to ensure that appropriate measures are taken for species listed in Appendix II. At present reviews are underway for Cycads, Prunus africana, Aquilaria malaccensis, Pericopsis elata, East African Aloe spp. used for extracts and for Madagascan plants as part of a country review.


Evaluate trade and biological information on currently unlisted species subject to significant international trade to determine whether they would qualify for and benefit from CITES listing

Parties have started to look at the following unlisted taxa: Harpagophytum spp., Guaiacum spp. Taxus spp. and a range of tree species traded as timbers. It is clearly very important that this process should be encouraged and extended if Parties are also to meet their obligations under Target 11 of the GSPC. This action is currently not accorded high priority because of lack of resources.

Objective 2.2 To ensure that decisions to amend the Convention’s Appendices are founded on sound and relevant scientific information and meet agreed biological and trade criteria for such amendments.


Encourage Parties to consult with the Plants Committee as appropriate



For identified commodities, develop standardized units of measure for permits, trade analysis and reporting


Objective 4.3 To promote greater awareness among and cooperation with the scientific community.


Participate actively at scientific meetings and conferences, and encourage participation in CITES issues by the scientific community.

Participation provides an opportunity to promote the links between CITES and CBD in plant conservation.

Objectives and Action Points directed at Parties which are particularly important to make CITES listings work effectively for plants, and which will help Parties to meet Target 11 of GSPC are outlined in Table 2. In addition deficiencies in national legislation and enforcement of controls for plant species in relation to CITES need to be addressed.

Table 2 Selected actions of the CITES Action Plan directed at Parties

Action Point


Objective 1.8: To encourage Parties to develop and implement effective management programmes for the conservation and recovery of species, so that the species will no longer satisfy the criteria for inclusion in the Appendices.


Share experiences gained by different countries in conservation, management and the recovery of species.


Promote establishment of effective programmes for species conservation, management and recovery


Develop and incorporate scientific baselines in management plans for traded Appendix II species, designed to ensure that any trade is sustainable

Objective 2.3: to improve the basis on which Scientific Authorities make non-detriment findings


Facilitate national and regional training for Scientific Authorities

At an international level the implementation of the Significant Trade Review process is a very important means of improving the implementation of CITES and ensuring that listed species are not endangered by international trade. The Plants Committees has a specific mandate to identify Appendix II species that are subject to significant levels of trade in consultation with range States, the CITES Secretariat and experts. Based on review and assessment of relevant biological and trade information recommendations can be made for action by the range State with time limits for their implementation to ensure compliance with the Convention. The result of the Significant Trade Review process generally removes the need for importing countries to apply stricter domestic measures (such as import bans or externally-imposed export quotas for range states) on a unilateral basis. It should also ensure that Appendix I listing for the species is not considered necessary.

3.2 Additional activities beyond the currently planned CITES actions
CITES is the only international mechanism specifically charged with regulating trade in wild plants for conservation purposes. As mentioned above it does not cover all plant species which are endangered by international trade. Other mechanisms are important to ensure that species are not endangered by international trade. Particularly important are sustainable management and harvesting plans within the range states of species to ensure that detrimental levels of off take do not take place. Independent certification of sustainability both of timber and non-timber forest products carried out to internationally recognised standards is one mechanism which should help ensure that no plant species are endangered by international trade. Other measures include the development of locally based propagation schemes for threatened plant species for which there is an international trade demand.
The following are suggested activities partially outside the scope of CITES but with links to CITES activities which will help Implement GSPC Target 11:

  • Identification of all Endangered plant species which are threatened by international trade. Collation of existing information into a baseline list including both CITES-listed species and species not currently covered by the Convention. This is an important requirement for meeting Target 11 and will require coordination between the Convention and other agencies.

  • Research to review the threats to a range of plant species that are traded internationally to assess the relative importance of collection from the wild for trade as a threat to the species in comparison to other threats such as habitat degradation or loss.

  • Review of national measures designed to promote sustainable trade in wild plant species at levels which do not threaten the survival of the species. Promotion of successful case studies.

  • Review of livelihood issues relating to trade in endangered plant species with case studies selected for CITES and non-CITES species.

  • Development of alternative rural income sources to reduce the need for collection of over-exploited wild plant species.

  • Regional workshops on policy and practical options for the conservation of the plant species where international trade is a significant threatening factor.

4. Suggested milestones
These milestones are preliminary suggestions as a basis for review. Development of a coherent framework for action will require further discussion within the CITES Plants Committee, re-assessment of the CITES Action Plan priorities in the light of GSPC and assessment of the potential of other mechanisms to contribute to Target 11. it is suggested that a framework for the implementation of Target 11 be in place by the end of 2004.
4.1. Information collection and review

National lists of wild plant species harvested for international trade by 2005.

Conservation assessments, linked to Target 2 of the GSPC, for all major groups of internationally traded plant taxa by 2007.
Global list of all threatened plants in international trade available on the Web and in published form by 2008.
4.2. CITES activities
Collection of information on currently unlisted plant species which may be appropriate for CITES listing through CITES networks in liaison with the IUCN/SSC Red List Programme, the TRAFFIC Network, trade associations, horticultural societies and other appropriate agencies.
Review of priorities for Significant Trade process for plants by 2004
Guidelines for making non-detriment findings for plant species based on case studies developed by 2006
Strategy for achieving a measurable decrease in illegal international trade in Endangered wild orchids by 2006 with priority importing and exporting countries identified
Strategies in place by 2005 for the downlisting of a range of Appendix I plants by 2010 based on recovery and management plans, taking into account Target 8 of the GSPC.
4.3. Other activities
Overview of other appropriate mechanisms which will help meet Target 11 by February 2004
Joint CBD/CITES publication on measures to promote sustainable trade in wild plant species at levels which do not threaten the survival of the species or the livelihoods of local people with case studies relating to CITES and non CITES species by 2006.
Four regional workshops on policy and practical options for the sustainable management of tree species in international trade by 2005.
Regional workshops on policy and practical options for the sustainable management of medicinal plant species in international trade by 2005.
5. Stakeholder consultation
The CITES Plants Committee has been requested to coordinate the stakeholder consultation for Target 11. This process was initiated at the Thirteenth Meeting of the Plants Committee held in Geneva in August 2003. A Working Group consisting of representatives from Austria, Australia, Mexico, FFI, IUCN and UNEP-WCMC was established to take the discussions on GSPC forward.
Given the scope of this Target which is not limited to CITES it is suggested that a wider Consultation include the following Stakeholders prior to the Fourteenth Meeting of the Plants Committee in February 2004 and the CBD COP:
Industry and trade associations in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, timber and ornamental plant sectors; international organisations including ITTO, CIFOR, FAO, FSC and World Health Organisation (WHO); IUCN SSC Sustainable Use Specialist Group and plant Specialist Groups; TRAFFIC and other international NGOs; specialist plant societies.
This discussion paper may form the basis for consultation. It is suggested that the Consultation should seek information on which plant species are being negatively impacted (currently Endangered or may become so) by trade; current activities which will help to deliver Target 11 in addition to those undertaken by CITES; priorities for further action and the availability of funding.

Averyanov, L., Cribb, P., Phan Ke Loc and Nguyen Tien Hiep (2003) Slipper orchids of Vietnam with an introduction to the Flora of Vietnam. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
CBD (2002) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Technical review of the targets and analysis of opportunities for their implementation: report of the meeting of technical experts on the Global Plant Conservation strategy, Gran Canaria, 11-13 February 2002. UNEP/CBD/COP/6/INF/21/Add.1
CITES Secretariat (2001) CITES Handbook. UNEP
WCMC (1998) Annex in: Contribution to an evaluation of tree species using the new CITES listing criteria. Unpublished report compiled on behalf of the CITES Management Authority of the Netherlands. WCMC, Cambridge
Annex 1
Technical review of Target 11 and analysis of opportunities for implementation – Technical Experts meeting Gran Canaria 2002
Background and baseline
At national level 157 CITES Parties are working in a co-ordinated way with tools for implementation under the umbrella of the CITES. The systems and data for monitoring of the international trade are centralised in WCMC-UNEP and the activities from international NGOs such us TRAFFIC-network, IUCN, WWF and other relevant networks on this specific issues constitutes the background and baseline for this target.

Rationale and Conclusions

To achieve the target “No species of wild flora endangered by international trade” it was considered necessary by the Technical Experts meeting to:

1. Enhance the ability of each Party:

  • To assist in the development of appropriate domestic legislation and policies that encourage the adoption and implementation of social and economic incentives allied to legal instruments that:

  • promote and regulate sustainable management of wild flora

  • promote and regulate responsible trade in wild flora

  • To strengthen the administrative, management and scientific capacity of Parties by improving the co-ordination with other national agencies responsible for wild plants.

  • To encourage organizations capable of supporting the Parties in building national information management capacities through training and other activities, and to facilitate improved access to and management of databases

  • To encourage Parties to develop and implement effective management programmes for the conservation and recovery of species, so that the species will no longer satisfy the criteria for inclusion in the CITES Appendices.

  • To use fully the potential of regional co-ordination and collaboration in capacity-building efforts.

2. Strengthen the scientific basis of the decision-making processes

  • To improve the scientific basis on which the Parties make non-detriment findings.

  1. Contribute to the reduction and ultimate elimination of illegal trade in wild flora

    • The illegal trade in wild plants is a major factor in the depletion of the world's natural resources in exchange for commercial gain. It undermines the conservation efforts of developing countries, affects the income of rural populations and has driven several species to the brink of extinction.

    • All countries, whether they are consumers or producers of wild plants, share responsibility to reduce and eventually eliminate illegal trade in wildlife. Successful achievement of this responsibility entails co-ordination and co-operation at all levels – local, national, regional and global. Heightened local awareness of and involvement in wildlife protection activities can further national efforts in combating illegal trade. Also, heightened awareness of and understanding by the judiciary of their potential role in deterring illegal activities relating to wild flora would further strengthen a Party’s effort to stem illegal trade.

    • To promote a high degree of co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration between national and international law enforcement agencies.

    • To stimulate and participate in bilateral, regional and global efforts to combat illegal trade in wild flora.

    • To develop appropriate management strategies and incentives for promoting a change from illegal to legal use of wild flora, for example: certification systems for timbers.

    • To strengthen communication and collaboration with national and international NGOs.

    • To strengthen alliances with relevant local communities, consumer groups and traders.

    • To promote awareness and a greater understanding by the judiciary of the social and economic significance of conservation threats posed by illegal trade in wild flora.

    • To promote greater awareness among and co-operation with the scientific community.

    • To produce and disseminate informative materials to a broad public at a local, national and regional levels.

Annex 2. GSPC targets in which the work of CITES contributes

(A) Understanding and documenting plant diversity

(1) A widely accessible working list of known plant species, as a step towards a complete world flora.


Work of the Nomenclature Committee, Periodic review of the Appendices and significant trade process. CITES Checklists produced for various groups of plants including orchids, cacti, other succulents and bulb genera.

(2) A preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, at national, regional and international levels.


The work of Scientific Authorities, the Plants Committee, the Significant Trade process all contribute to this.

(3) Development of models with protocols for plant conservation and sustainable use, based on research and practical experience.


Article 4 and best practice examples e.g. Guaiacum. Setting quotas and non-detriment findings.

(B) Conserving plant diversity

(4) At least 10 per cent of each of the world’s ecological regions effectively conserved.


(5) Protection of 50 per cent of the most important areas for plant diversity assured.


(6) At least 30 per cent of production lands managed consistent with the conservation of plant diversity.


(7) 60 per cent of the world’s threatened species conserved in situ.


Identifying App 1 species helps in establishing protected areas. Second, when there is sustainable use in situ studies (e.g. Harpagophytum) it provides an incentive for in situ conservation.

(8) 60 per cent of threatened plant species in accessible ex situ collections, preferably in the country of origin, and 10 per cent of them included in recovery and restoration programmes.


Listing has created higher motivation for conservation work as opposed to simple collecting. Because they are listed, seeds of cacti in Mexico are cultivated in situ instead of flowing out of country.

(9) 70 per cent of the genetic diversity of crops and other major socio-economically valuable plant species conserved, and associated indigenous and local knowledge maintained.


(10) Management plans in place for at least 100 major alien species that threaten plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems.


(C) Using plant diversity sustainably

(11) No species of wild flora endangered by international trade.


Everything CITES does contributes to this target.

(12) 30 per cent of plant-based products derived from sources that are sustainably managed.


Annotations to species listed in the Appendices bring products into consideration.

(13) The decline of plant resources, and associated indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices that support sustainable livelihoods, local food security and health care, halted.


Non-detriment findings contribute at a minor level.

(D) Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity

(14) The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, educational and public –awareness programmes.


(E) Building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity

(15) The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities in plant conservation increased, according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this Strategy.


Training courses, slide packs, CD-ROM, training officer.

(16) Networks for plant conservation activities established or strengthened at national, regional and international levels.


CITES is a network. Regional directories are an expression of the network.



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