Introduction to CITES

What is CITES?

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The aim of the Convention is to regulate and monitor the international trade in certain species of animals and plants, and to ensure that trade does not threaten their survival in the wild.

CITES is an international agreement between Governments, known as Parties to the Convention, which was agreed in Washington in 1973. It entered into force in 1975. Over 170 Parties (countries) have signed up to the Convention. Ireland became a CITES Party in 2002. The full text of the Convention can be found on the CITES website.

How are species controlled?

Over 4,000 animal and 25,000 plant species are included in Appendices I, II and III of CITES, which accord them varying degrees of protection.

Appendix I includes species which are threatened with extinction and for which trade is authorized only in exceptional circumstances. Examples include:

  • the great apes
  • tigers
  • sperm whales
  • many parrots and macaws
  • Brazilian rosewood.

Appendix II includes the majority of CITES species; these are species which are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but they may become so unless trade is strictly regulated. Examples include:

  • the African lion
  • hippopotamus
  • many parrots and birds of prey
  • seahorses
  • corals
  • the majority of orchids and cacti

Appendix III contains species protected or regulated by at least one country and assistance by other Parties is required in order to control international trade. For example, Canada has listed walrus on Appendix III, and Peru, Colombia and Guatemala have all listed Spanish Cedar on Appendix III.

How is trade regulated?

CITES regulates international trade in specimens listed on Appendices I-III based on a system of permits. Each Party is required to designate a Management Authority competent to grant CITES permits and certificates, and a Scientific Authority responsible for advising the Management Authority on scientific aspects of implementation and monitoring of national trade.

Irish CITES Authorities

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are the Management and Scientific authorities for Ireland. The Authorities are located at:

CITES Management Authority
National Parks and Wildlife Service
7 Ely Place
Dublin 2
Ireland