Enforcement of the Washington Convention (CITES)

The FSVO is the authority responsible for enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (also known as the Washington Convention) in Switzerland. This means that, in keeping with this Convention, animals and plants that are endangered worldwide are protected from extinction in Switzerland too.

Good to know

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Species protection provisions of the CITES Conference of the Parties CoP19 enter into force on 1 May 2023

29.03.2023: Important decisions were taken at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama City in November 2022. For example, additional woody species and additional shark and reptile species have once again been added to the CITES Appendices.

The changes to the conservation status of animal and plant species in international trade will enter into force in Switzerland on 1 May 2023. It is important to note that this date only applies to Switzerland. Other dates may apply in other countries. Below are the most important changes and their significance:

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Tougher penalties for illegal trade in protected plants and animals

From 1 March 2022, tougher criminal sanctions will apply to the illegal trade in internationally protected animal and plant species. The Federal Council passed an amendment of the relevant federal act and implementing provisions on 26 January 2022. Serious cases of illegal trade will now be treated as crimes.


The basis for implementation of the Washington Convention is the Federal Act on the Trade in Protected Animal and Plant Species, FA-CITES (Bundesgesetz über den Verkehr mit Tieren und Pflanzen geschützter Arten).

This Act regulates the import and export of protected species of animals and plants as well as products made from them.

Enforcement of the CITES Convention

CITES is an international trade convention designed to ensure the sustainable use and conservation of animal and plant populations. The species conservation legislation (FA-CITES, the CITES Ordinance and the CITES Control Ordinance) permits enforcement that is structured in a risk-based and flexible manner in accordance with international obligations and developments.

The CITES Expert Committee is on hand to advise the FSVO and answer any scientific questions relating to CITES.

Other enforcement duties relating to species conservation

Pursuant to FA-CITES, animal and plant species are deemed to require protection if they are harvested from nature or traded to an extent that could endanger the sustainable use of natural stocks.
In this regard, the FSVO is also entrusted with other tasks aimed at enforcing international species conservation in Switzerland.

Protecting whales

As a member of the International Whaling Commission, Switzerland aims to play the role of a reliable mediating partner.

National species conservation

Switzerland actively promotes species conservation, both internationally and nationally, by enforcing domestic laws and international conventions.
The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) is responsible for protecting native animal and plant species. The cantons and communes, as well as private organisations, also make valuable contributions by establishing conservation areas, among other endeavours.

More information

Last modification 08.01.2024

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