What is CITES and how is VKM involved?
CITES is an international agreement used for monitoring and regulating trade in wild animals and plants to ensure their survival.
CITES was enacted in 1975, and had 183 member countries (partners) in 2019. CITES divides species of wild plants and animals into lists, depending on how much protection they need. List I lists species that are threatened with extinction. International commercial trade in these species is prohibited. List II lists species that are vulnerable to trade or that may be threatened with extinction in the near future if trade is not regulated.
The Norwegian Environment Agency is the administrative authority for CITES in Norway, and is responsible for ensuring that the Convention is followed up and complied with. The Norwegian Environment Agency, for example, authorizes the export and import of CITES-listed species. Read more about this on the Norwegian Environment Agency's page.
The Ministry of Climate and Environment has appointed VKM as an independent scientific authority responsible for preparing the scientific assessments that will form the basis for the decisions taken by the administrative authority.
As a scientific authority, VKM is responsible for:
- assessing meeting documents in advance of international CITES meetings.
- assessing the status of species in list I where import / export permits have been applied for.
- assessing the effects of import / export for species groups on list II.
- assisting the Norwegian Environment Agency in drawing up list proposals for regulating species.
- analyzing the level of trade of species found in Norwegian territory (significant trade review).
An assessment of the risk of whether trade of a species will be devastating to its survival is called a Non-detriment finding (NDF). An NDF collects information about the species' status, conservation and management measures, level of legal and illegal trade, and about other threats to the species.
VKM prepares two types of Non-detriment findings:
- Assessment of species in trade where, for example, it is necessary to examine practices of harvesting, or other things that affect the survival of the species. An NDF follows the usual VKM model. This means a project group will carry out the work, followed by peer review and approval in the foreign organism and endangered species trade group (CITES). The assignments usually have a 6-month deadline.
- A brief assessment of List I species for which an import/export permit is sought. This type of NDF has a short delivery deadline as the managing authority must be able to comply with deadlines for application processing. This kind of NDF is prepared by a permanent project team together with the project manager from the secretariat, with input from external experts with expertise about the species. A short NDF is generated the project group and is not approved by a specialist group.