German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Non-detriment Findings

CITES Non-detriment Findings Guidance. A 9-Steps-process to support CITES Scientific Authorities making science-based non-detriment findings (NDFs) for species listed in CITES Appendix II


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.

The nine steps to NDF making

In our method, the making of a Non-detriment Finding has been broken down to 9 consecutive steps. In the major steps 4-7, the conservation concerns, the 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 and evaluates whether these adequately mitigate the identified risks. The logic of this step-wise process allows for a synoptically final decision making in step 9.

This figure shows the 9 steps to NDF-making.

Step 1. Review specimen identification
Step 2. Review compliance with requirements for Artificial Propagation
Step 3. Review relevant exclusions and previously-made NDFs
Step 4. Evaluate conservation concern
Step 5. Evaluate intrinsic/potential biological risks of wild harvest
Step 6. Evaluate impacts of wild harvest
Step 7. Evaluate impacts of trade
Step 8. Evaluate effectiveness of management measures
Step 9. Non-Detriment Finding or related advice

The picture shows one of the worksheets (step 5).

We have developed a series of worksheets (MS Excel-format) to 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

The work on the 9-Steps NDF Guidance and the workshops are realised in close cooperation with TRAFFIC and the CITES Nomenclature Specialist for Plants. Several international workshops have been taken place to apply the guidance and to learn from the expertise of CITES-Authorities.

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.

Sino-German Workshop on CITES NDF Guidance for Perennial Plants, December 2015, Shenzhen, China (Photo: CITES MA of China)
The picture shows participants of the Sino-German workshop on CITES NDF Guidance for Perennial plants, December 2015, Shenzhen, China (Photo: CITES MA of China).

Plant groups covered

The 9-Steps-NDF-Guidance is available for

Perennial Plants



If you have any questions please contact Daniel Wolf or David Harter.


Perennial Plants

CITES Non-detriment Findings. Guidance for Perennial Plants, Version 3.0, pdf file (3,8 MB)

NDF Worksheets, MS Excel file (47 KB)

Further versions of the 9-Steps-NDF-Guidance for Perennial Plants in different languages can be downloaded here.