German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Non-detriment Findings

CITES Non-detriment Findings Guidance for Perennial Plants. A nine-step process to support CITES Scientific Authorities making science-based non-detriment findings (NDFs) for species listed in CITES Appendix II. Version 1.0

Guidance for Plants

Article IV 2a) of CITES states that in order to grant an export permit for trade in specimens of species included in Appendix II, one of the requirements is that “a Scientific Authority of the State of export has advised that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species”. This advice given by the Scientific Authority is what is called the Non-detriment Finding or NDF.

The making of Non-detriment Findings (NDF) is one of the key tasks of CITES Scientific Authorities and a cornerstone of the Convention (Art. IV 2a). The principles and background of NDFs are contained in Res.Conf. 16.7. However, practical guidance for Scientific Authorities on how to make NDFs has been lacking in the past. Recently, several Parties have made efforts to overcome this situation. 

In the follow-up process of the 2008 NDF expert meeting in Cancun, Mexico, the German Scientific Authority, together with TRAFFIC International and WWF Germany have developed a nine steps process to make scientifically sound NDFs for perennial plants. This Guidance was presented to the 21st meeting of the CITES Plants Committee in May 2014. The Committee recommended that "Germany submit the Guidance on making non-detriment findings for perennial plants to the Secretariat for inclusion on the CITES website, and that Parties be invited to try out the Guidelines and provide feedback to Germany". Germany reported again at the 22nd meeting of the CITES Plants Committee. The Committee encouraged Parties to use the guidance for making Non-Detriment Findings for CITES-listed tree species developed by Germany, and provide feedback. The Committee requested Germany to report to the Plants Committee at its 23rd meeting on progress achieved in the development of its NDF guidance.

The nine steps to NDF making

The chart shows the nine-step pathway for making Non-detriment Findings for perennial plant species listed in CITES Appendix II

In our method, the making of a Non-detriment Finding has been broken down to nine consecutive steps. In the major steps 4-7, the conservation concerns, the intrinsic biological risks and impacts of harvesting and trading in an Appendix II plant species are identified. Step 8 identifies the management measures that may be in place to mitigate these identified risks. The logic of this step-wise process allows for a synoptical final decision making in step 9. 

The 9-Steps-NDF-Guidance is available as a download from this website in  English language. For the Spanisch version of the Guidance documents please download from the CITES website (' Guidance on NDFs' or ' Non-Detriment Findings' table on 'Perennials'), or contact  Daniel Wolf or  Natalie Hofbauer.

Step 1. Review identification and taxonomic status
Step 2. Review origin and source of specimens
Step 3. Review relevant exclusions and previously-made NDFs
Step 4. Evaluate conservation concerns
Step 5. Evaluate intrinsic biological risc
Step 6. Evaluate harvest impacts
Step 7. Evaluate trade impacts
Step 8. Evaluate if management rigour is appropriate to severity of concerns, riscs and impacts
Step 9. Make a Non-Detriment Finding or provide related advice

We have also developed a series of worksheets which should be used and filled in when working through the steps. In the worksheets the assessments in the consecutive steps will be documented together with the references to the relevant documents used. When the final NDF decision has been made, the underlying worksheets form a transparent documentation how this decision was reached. This allows for easy updating during future follow-up NDFs.

NDF capacity building workshops

This Guidance has already been used during a series of training workshops: in November 2012 in Hanoi, Vietnam; in November 2014 in Lima, Peru; and in June 2015 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The idea of these workshops is to apply the 9-steps methodology and to learn from each other. The latest workshop was the Sino-German workshop on CITES NDF Guidance for Perennial plants.

The picture shows the participants of the Sino-German workshop on CITES NDF Guidance for Perennial plants

In a collaboration between China and Germany on CITES a workshop was held in Shenzhen, China between the 9th and 11th December 2015 to discuss the 9-step guidance on making NDFs for perennial plants. The workshop included over 30 participants from the National and Provincial Management Authorities of China, the Scientific Authority of China, Scientific Institutions from around China, medicinal trade associations and industry, BfN, TRAFFIC, and the Nomenclature Specialist of the Plants Committee.

Two days were spent introducing the 9 Steps and using case studies of Dendrobium species and Agarwood to apply the process as an exercise. On the final day of the workshop participants experienced artificial propagation of plants with visits to the Huasheng Enterprise Group Company’s Dendrobium orchid plantation and the Dongguan Agarwood Garden Aquilaria plantation. The workshop was an excellent example of international cooperation in CITES helping improving the implementation of the Convention.

Lessons learned from all these workshops will now feed into a revision of the guidance, which will be launched at the 17th Conference of the Parties in South Africa in September 2016.

For the coming years we are planning more capacity building workshops to support CITES Parties interested in using the 9-Steps-Guidance in their NDF work. CITES Parties interested in hosting such a training workshop are invited to contact us.


If you have any questions please contact  Daniel Wolf or  Uwe Schippmann.