Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to do an NDF?

Non-detriment findings (NDFs) are science-based decisions about whether international trade in CITES listed-species is detrimental or not. NDFs require the collation of data and information in order for CITES Scientific Authorities (SAs) to make a positive or negative NDF decision.

All exports of Appendix I and Appendix II-listed species require an NDF, as well as and imports of wild-sourced Appendix I species. The exceptions are specimens traded as source code ‘O’ (Pre-convention) or as source code ‘I’; the latter represent confiscated/seized specimens that may only be traded in exceptional circumstances if the export is considered to be non-detrimental. Exports of Appendix III-listed species also do not require an NDF.

Draft guidance documents on NDFs produced by a CITES workshop on non-detriment findings (Nairobi, 2023) will soon be available on the CITES website.

How do I get an account for the NDF Support Tool?

Most of the NDF Tool is publicly available, however due to some data restrictions the status, threats and use and trade sections are truncated. CITES Authorities can request an NDF Support Tool user account, with access to the full text. If you are a CITES Authority, please email ndfsupport@unep-wcmc.org with the subject ‘REQUESTING NEW ACCOUNT’. Please include the following information in the body of the email:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Country

We will send confirmation to the email address provided once a user account has been set up.

How do I delete my NDF Support Tool user account?

If you want to remove your user account for the NDF Support Tool, please email ndfsupport@unep-wcmc.org with the subject ‘REQUESTING ACCOUNT DELETION’. Please include the email address of the account to be removed in the body of the email.

Where can I find a list of all CITES-listed species?

The official list of all CITES-listed taxa can be downloaded from the CITES Appendices. A full species list, as well as the relevant CITES Appendix, nomenclature, distribution information and identification materials, can be accessed via the Checklist of CITES Species and Species+.

Which countries are Parties to CITES?

The CITES website contains the list of CITES Parties, including details of when countries became Party to CITES.

Country names in the NDF Support Tool reflect those as recorded in the CITES Trade Database. In some cases, names for non-Parties appear in the database because CITES Parties will still report on trade in CITES-listed species with non-Parties. Historical names are also included in the database to reflect the trade as it was reported at the time.

How frequently are data updated in the NDF Support Tool?

The NDF Support Tool is dynamically linked to the CITES Trade Database (for CITES trade data), Species+ (for listings, annotations, quotas and trade suspensions), and the CITES Checklist. Data in all three databases are updated on an ongoing basis, with the NDF Support Tool automatically reflecting these changes. Substantial changes to species nomenclature and Appendix listings are made in Species+ and the CITES Checklist approximately every three years following decisions adopted at a CITES CoP (Conference of the Parties). National trade quotas are published annually (more information can be found on the CITES website) and trade suspensions may be put in place at any time.

Data from the IUCN Red List are updated in the NDF Support Tool following publication of a new version of the Red List. This typically happens twice a year.

Data on species life history traits are added on an ad hoc basis, as new datasets become available. If you have or are aware of any peer-reviewed life history datasets that may be relevant for CITES-listed species, we are happy to explore their potential inclusion in the NDF Support Tool. Please get in touch at ndfsupport@unep-wcmc.org.

Why is the species that I am searching for not included in the NDF Support Tool?

Species may not be present in the NDF Support Tool for the following reasons:

  1. The species is not CITES-listed. Please check the Checklist of CITES Species and Species+ for a list of all CITES-listed species; or

  2. The species’ name entered is not an accepted name. The NDF Support Tool can facilitate searches by synonyms and common names, but only for those names already included within the Checklist of CITES Species and Species+; searching for names that are not recognised in these databases will not return any data. You will need to identify an accepted name, but if you think there is an omission in the database, get in touch via ndfsupport@unep-wcmc.org.

Please note that since the CITES standard nomenclature is based on standard references agreed by Parties to CITES, there can be a lag between the latest taxonomic knowledge and the nomenclature adopted by CITES.

Why are there missing data for the species that I am searching for?

Some potential reasons for ‘missing’ data are listed below.

  1. The species may not have an IUCN Red List assessment

    In this case, data on the species status and threats, as well as some information on geographic distribution will not be available to users in the tool. IUCN Red List data were mapped to the central CITES taxonomic backbone by accepted name only, so species with IUCN Red List assessments under alternative names (e.g. synonyms) may not have been included.

  2. No trade was reported for the selected filters

    Not all taxa listed in CITES have been reported in international trade; if the search returns no trade, then there is unlikely to be any direct trade in that taxon/ country/territory for the specific search parameters.

    However, the NDF Support Tool applies default filters for each taxonomic group (for example, for reptiles it is “live”, “skins” and “bodies”). The species may have been traded as other terms (e.g. “skin pieces”) by that country/territory, so ensure that the search filters applied make sense in the context of the species being searched for. Trade over time by term can be visualised by selecting the middle ‘Term’ tab on the trade over time graph, and trade terms can be adjusted in the left-hand ‘Term’ filter.

  3. No life history data are available for this taxon

    Life history data was primarily compiled for animals, to support Conf Res. 17.7 (Rev. CoP 19). It should be noted that species nomenclature and taxonomy differs between different datasets. Life history data were primarily mapped to the central CITES taxonomic backbone by accepted name only, so species included in the life history datasets under alternative names (e.g synonyms) may not have been included. A full list of datasets used can be found in the methods. If you have or are aware of any peer-reviewed life history datasets that may be relevant for CITES-listed species, particularly for plants, then we are happy to explore their potential inclusion in the NDF Support Tool. Please get in touch at ndfsupport@unep-wcmc.org.

What are The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria?

The IUCN Red List Categories indicate how close a species is to becoming extinct. The nine Red List Categories are Least Concern (LC), Near Threatened (NT), Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically Endangered (CR), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Extinct (EX), Data Deficient (DD) and Not Evaluated (NE).

Species are assessed against five criteria (see here for useful summary of criteria) based on geographic range, population size and population decline/increase, in addition to extinction probability analyses. These criteria determine which category is most appropriate for the species.

Species in the Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered categories are collectively described as 'threatened'. The IUCN Red List does not include Not Evaluated species. Critically Endangered species may also be tagged as Possibly Extinct or Possibly Extinct in the Wild. For regional assessments, two additional categories are also available: 'Not Applicable' and 'Regionally Extinct'. More information on regional assessments can be found here.

What are the population trend categories and how are these categories decided?

Population trend refers to trends over a period of about three years around the time when the assessment was done and may or may not relate to the parameters ‘population reduction’ and ‘continuing decline’ which are used in the Red List Criteria. Population trends fall into four categories: Increasing, Stable, Decreasing and Unknown. Population trends may be based on observed (direct observations), estimated (based on calculations that may include statistical assumptions), inferred (derived from proxy indicators such as density estimates across sample areas or changes in habitat area) or suspected (derived from related indicators such as trends in harvest numbers, habitat quality or sightings) trends. More information on how population trends are derived can be found here.

Why does a species’ ‘Population size’ have multiple values?

Population size may be given as a single value (e.g. 500), a range of values (e.g. 500-1000) [minimum and maximum] or as multiple estimates (e.g. 500-1000,800-900) [minimum and maximum, and best estimate which is given as a range]. Where multiple estimates are given (numbers or ranges separated by a comma), the second value or range should be the more accurate value. Full details are provided in the Red List Guidelines.

What do ‘area of occupancy’ and ‘extent of occurrence’ mean?

Area of occupancy (AOO) and Extent of occurrence (EOO) are two metrics of species range provided in the IUCN Red List. They are defined in the Red List Guidelines as follows:

  • Area of occupancy (AOO): The area of suitable habitat currently occupied by the taxon
  • Extent of occurrence (EOO): The area contained within the shortest continuous imaginary boundary which can be drawn to encompass all the known, inferred or projected sites of present occurrence of a taxon, excluding cases of vagrancy

The Red List Guidelines also provide full details on how AOO and EOO are calculated.

Why does a species’ ‘area of occupancy’ or ‘extent of occurrence’ have multiple values?

Estimates for area of occupancy (AOO) and extent of occurrence (EOO) may be given as a single value (e.g. 500 km²), a range of values (e.g. 500-1000 km²) or as multiple estimates (e.g. 500-1000, 800-900 km²). Where minimum, maximum and best estimates are given (numbers or ranges separated by a comma), the second value or range should be the more accurate value. Full details are provided in the Red List Guidelines.

Why does the species geographic range in the map not match with the list of range States?

The geographic range in the map derives from the IUCN Red List and is provided by the expert Assessor based on either point (occurrence) or polygon (limits of distribution/ field guide map) data. Maps may be buffered or generalised for various reasons and hence the mapped area may be larger than the area where a species actually occurs. Guidance can be found in the IUCN Red List spatial data Mapping Standards. This information is only updated when a new species assessment is published.

The list of range States derives from Species+ and the Checklist of CITES Species and is based on published, scientific sources such as the CITES standard nomenclature references, peer reviewed scientific journal articles or published scientific books (e.g. field guides, checklists, national red lists etc.) and does not include anecdotal evidence. Distribution data in Species+ and CITES Checklist are updated on an ongoing basis. If you have published, scientific evidence of distribution information that you believe to be missing or incorrect in the list of range States, please contact species@unep-wcmc.org.

Why is the species’ geographic range map missing?

The geographic range in the map derives from the IUCN Red List and is provided by the expert Assessor based on either point (occurrence) or polygon (limits of distribution/ field guide map) data, however not all species that have been assessed on the IUCN Red List have a spatial distribution map. Range maps may be generalised or excluded from display for sensitive species; some maps may also be incomplete, particularly for widespread species or species that are poorly known.

The NDF Support Tool only displays geographic range maps for global IUCN Red List assessments, maps may be available for regional assessments where they exist. Where available, regional assessment range maps can be accessed via the IUCN Red List website.

Note that point locality data are currently not displayed on the NDF Support Tool but can be viewed from the IUCN Red List website.

What trade data are available in the NDF Support Tool?

The NDF Support Tool visualises the most recent ten years* of available CITES trade data, which can be downloaded directly from the CITES Trade Database and visualised and explored in more detail in CITES Wildlife TradeView. The CITES trade data are the official data on the international trade in CITES-listed taxa, as reported by the CITES Parties in their annual reports submitted in accordance with the Convention. Further information about the data can be found in the CITES Trade Database guidance.

CITES currently regulates the international trade in approximately 40,900 plants and animals (see the overview of CITES species); the number of CITES-listed species has increased over time since the Convention came into force in 1975. It is important to note that the following is not captured within CITES annual reports or within the NDF Support Tool: domestic trade in CITES-listed species, illegal trade in CITES-listed species and trade in species not covered by the Convention. The NDF Support Tool also only shows trade data for direct trade (i.e. where the country/territory of export is also the country/territory of origin) to avoid overinflating trade levels by combining direct and indirect (i.e. reexports) trade.

* The deadline for the submission of CITES annual reports is the 31st of October of the year after the year to which the report relates. For example, the deadline for 2020 annual reports is the 31st of October 2021, and data for this year are unlikely to be available until after the deadline. Note: a notable drop in trade in the most recent year(s) may represent missing reports rather than a real decline in trade.

Why are trade data for some countries missing for specific years?

Trade for specific years maybe missing for several reasons:

  1. There may be no trade in CITES-listed taxa to and/or from that country for that year (or for the specific search criteria for that year);

  2. The country and/or their trading partner may have not yet submitted their CITES annual report(s) for the year(s) in question. Details of CITES annual report submissions by Party are accessible via the CITES website (available for recent years); or

  3. The species has recently been listed in CITES.

Is it possible to view illegal trade data through the NDF Support Tool?

While the tool does not currently include illegal trade data, it is possible to view a subset of “seized or confiscated” trade data (source “I”) by selecting “Confiscations/seizures” in the source filter. It is important to note, however, that source “I” primarily represents trade in previously seized or confiscated trade shipments that are now being legally traded for legitimate purposes, such as the return of confiscated specimens or a forensic analysis to be done in the importing Party. As such, this is not a comprehensive resource for wildlife seizure data. UNEP-WCMC/IUCN are exploring ways that illegal trade data could be further integrated into the tool in future.

Is it possible to combine or compare trade in different units directly?

The NDF Support Tool is designed to allow flexibility in terms of searching and viewing the wildlife trade data, but some restrictions are necessary to avoid combining datasets that do not make sense to combine. As a result, it is not possible to combine data across different units of measure because they are unlikely to be comparable; for example, 1kg of seahorse bodies is not the same as one individual seahorse, so adding these together would be meaningless.

Why are there some differences between exporter- and importer-reported trade data?

The NDF Support Tool allows users to view the trade data by reporter-type (i.e. trade as reported by the focal country/territory of export and as reported by all countries/territories importing from that country/territory of export). The ‘Source’ and ‘Term’ views in the trade over time graph default to displaying data as reported by the exporter, however this can be adjusted via the dropdown option in the top right of the graph. The exporter- and importer-reported trade can be compared together on the same graph by selecting the end ‘Reporter type’ view for the trade over time graph. Often trade will be reported in the same way, but trade reported by trading partners may differ for several reasons, including:

  1. trade shipments may be reported in different years. This can occur when export permits are issued at the end of the year and the corresponding import does not happen (or get reported) until the following year;

  2. one country/territory reporting trade quantities based on permits that were issued and another country/territory reporting actual trade quantities (e.g. a permit may be issued to export 200 individuals, but a discrepancy could arise if only 100 are exported or the permit was cancelled);

  3. mortality of live animals during transport;

  4. different trade term, source or purpose of transaction codes used by the exporting and importing country/territory;

  5. CITES Parties are not obligated to report their imports of Appendix II taxa. This can result in higher levels of trade reported by exporters than by importers;

  6. one of the trade partners may not be a Party to CITES so will not be reporting their trade to CITES

  7. one of the trade partners may not have submitted an annual report for a specific year. It is possible to check the annual report submission history for specific Parties on the CITES website - here (available for recent years); and

  8. importers and exporters may report taxa at different taxonomic levels or may report the trading partner differently in cases involving overseas territories (e.g. exports to French Guiana, but the corresponding imports are reported by France).

When analysing CITES trade data, specifically when noting differences between importer- and exporter-reported data, it is important to factor in the possible discrepancies to ensure the interpretation drawn from such analyses is as accurate as possible.

What are the Threat classifications displayed in the NDF Support Tool?

The NDF Support Tool displays the IUCN Red List Threats Classification Scheme Version 3.3. The threats are structured according to a hierarchical classification of the drivers of species decline.

What life history traits are included in the NDF Support Tool?

The NDF Support Tool displays standardised trait values for ten life history traits relating to body size (adult length, adult weight, adult snout-to-vent length), reproductive output (number of offspring/ reproductive event, number of reproductive events/ year, number of offspring/ year), age at maturity (female age at first birth, female age at maturity, plant age at maturity) and growth rate. These traits all relate to breeding biology, providing an indication of a species vulnerability to overharvesting. See methods for a full list of data sources, as well as details on how the data were standardised and relative vulnerability was calculated.

What does ‘relative measure’ and ‘relative vulnerability’ mean for species life history traits?

Relative measure indicates whether the mean trait value for the species is relatively high (top third), moderate (middle third) or low (bottom third) compared to the mean trait values for all other species with data in that order. This is also visualised on the histogram where there are trait data for more than 10 species in that order. Note that where only one trait value is available for a species, the absolute value is used.

Relative vulnerability indicates whether the relative measure is likely to make the species more or less vulnerable to over-harvesting based on where they fall along the fast-slow life history continuum1,2. Species with ‘fast’ life history strategies tend to be smaller, have a higher reproductive output and mature earlier (referred to as ‘r-selected’ species). Species with a slower life history strategy tend to invest more in growth and reproduction, are likely to be larger, produce fewer offspring and take longer to reach reproductive maturity (‘K-selected’ species). All else being equal, species with a ‘fast’ life history strategy are considered less vulnerable to overharvesting because they are intrinsically more likely to be able to return to pre-harvest levels sooner.

See methods for a summary of relative measure and vulnerability for each trait and how these were calculated.

1 Hutchings, J.A., Myers, R.A., García, V.B., Lucifora, L.O. and Kuparinen, A., 2012. Life-history correlates of extinction risk and recovery potential. Ecological Applications, 22(4), pp.1061-1067.
2 Bielby, J., Mace, G.M., Bininda-Emonds, O.R., Cardillo, M., Gittleman, J.L., Jones, K.E., Orme, C.D.L. and Purvis, A., 2007. The fast-slow continuum in mammalian life history: an empirical reevaluation. The American Naturalist, 169(6), pp.748-757.

Why is there no histogram displayed for a species life history trait?

Species life history trait histograms visualise how the mean trait value for the species compares to the mean trait value for other species in the order, where data are available. Histograms are not displayed in instances where there are mean trait values for less than 10 species in the order.