CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber
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CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber

Export permits for CITES Appendix II species, or parts or products derived from these, re-quire that the Scientific Authority of the exporting country carries out a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF). NDFs are a procedure to scientifically evaluate parameters such as species distribution and habitats, population status and trends, harvest practices, as well as volumes and impact of trade in target species. They result in a recommendation to the CITES Management Authority of the exporting state. In general this recommendation is made as a positive NDF (necessary precondition for a CITES permit) or a negative NDF.

The structure, content and methods used to develop NDFs vary considerably. This is partly explained by the fact that there are different analytical requirements for different groups of species. In addition, there is an absence of specific guidance documents on how to develop CITES NDFs for specific taxa. In the case of timber/tree species only principle guidance documents and case studies have been developed until now. These resulted from discussions on and efforts to develop specific guidance for making an NDF for timber in CITES for over a number of years. In preparing this guidance we have benefited from the results of these deliberations and include key elements from the following documents in the current guidance:

In 2014, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) facilitated the develop-ment and publication of a guidance document on CITES NDFs for perennial plants (Leaman & Oldfield, 2014). This guidance has undergone various revisions based on user feedback and interaction in training workshops. The latest edition, Version 3.0, was published in 2016 (Wolf et al., 2016). Version 3.0 is currently available in the English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Georgian, Italian and Korean languages. Given the interest shown in the perennial plant guidance, BfN began a process to develop a guidance document on making NDFs for timber imports into the EU. In November 2015, the ‘Workshop on Non-detriment Findings for Imports of CITES-listed Timber into the EU’ was convened at the International Academy for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm, Germany, aiming to identify methods and elements of an NDF guidance specific to EU imports of CITES-listed timber/tree species. Some 20 specialists participated, comprising timber and trade experts as well as representatives from CITES Scientific and Management Authorities.

Based on the structure of the 9-step Guidance document for perennial plants (Version 2.0, 2015) the “CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber – Guidance for EU-member States” was generated. This was further developed by BfN from an EU specific tool to a more gen-eral one resulting in “CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber Version 1.0”.

In 2016 the Ministry of the Environment of Peru (with the support of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) and the Amazon Regional Program (BMZ/DGIS/GIZ)) organised a regional workshop on NDFs in Lima. BfN and TRAFFIC led this training, using “CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber Version 1.0”. At the workshop this guidance was applied, with great success, by members of CITES Authorities from eight Latin American countries. Building on the experience gained in Lima, Version 2.0 of the timber guidance was developed.

In November 2017 a second international expert workshop took place on the Isle of Vilm (for participants see Acknowledgements section). The aims of the workshop were: to review the general applicability of the guidance (Version 2.0), assess its potential value to exporting countries and to identify areas that could be improved.

The 2017 Vilm workshop participants took the overall view that the guidance worked well for tree species. However, a significant number of potential amendments were identified and collated during the workshop. This document is the outcome of reviewing those amendments and finalizing the guidance.

Special emphasis was given to the Principles for Non-Detriment Findings (NDF) for Trees (WORKING GROUP 1, 2008) in the preparation of this guidance.

“CITES Non-detriment Findings for Timber Version 3.0” is the product of this extensive re-view process and we look forward to it being applied by CITES Parties and welcome feed-back on its use and applicability.

Using this NDF Guidance

This Guidance suggests nine steps that a Scientific Authority can take to make a science-based NDF. The overall process is shown in Figure 1.

This Guidance is not intended to automatically generate the NDF-decision of a Scientific Authority. It provides a standardised mechanism to record and process the information required and available to a CITES Scientific Authority in order to make an adequate NDF.

Anyone using this framework guidance should rely on their own experience and judgment; there will not always be agreement with the level of risk this Guidance indicates and experts may have better insight than a generic tool can provide. Assessing the risks is intended to provide guidance to the level of detail necessary for an informed decision on whether management can ensure that the harvest of and trade in the concerned species is likely to be non-detrimental.
This guidance aims to structure the relevant aspects and information in order to facilitate an individual conclusion on detriment. It should also be noted, that the proposed YES/NO deci-sions as depicted in the decision path diagrams of each step are only proposals. It may well be that questions further down in the decision path will help assessing the correct answer; therefore, it is recommended to look, at least briefly, into all key questions before going to Step 9 and propose a decision.

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