CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a trade convention drawn up to ensure that the animal and plant life on our planet is used sustainably and conserved.
It was realised long ago that excessive international trade was developing into a serious threat for many species. Against this background, the "Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" – CITES for short (also known as the Washington Convention) – came into being in 1973. Switzerland was one of the first signatories of this Convention. The CITES Secretariat is in Geneva. Today, more than 180 countries have already undertaken to work together through CITES to protect flora and fauna
CITES – regulated trade in protected plant and animal species
Endangered plant and animal species should only be traded to the extent permitted by their natural populations. Sustainable, regulated trade is often a more efficient form of protection than an absolute ban on trade. Under the CITES Convention, the term trade refers to any instance in which a border is crossed.
The export and import of live animals and plants, parts of them or products made from them is either illegal or requires a permit, depending on the extent of the threat to the species in question.
The CITES Appendices now list more than 5,000 species of animal and 28,000 plant species listed in (see "More information"). The species protected under CITES are divided into three protection categories, depending on the extent of the threat.
- Appendix I: Species listed in Appendix I are in acute danger. Trade in these species is severely restricted or illegal (e.g. ivory, tortoiseshell products). Exceptions include prior acquisitions*, products that demonstrably originate from captive-bred animals and specimens for species-conservation programmes and research purposes.
- The species listed in Appendices II and III of CITES might be threatened if trade in them were not controlled.
* Prior acquisitions: Specimens that were traded before the Convention came into effect for the species concerned (e.g. antiques containing ivory).
CITES and Switzerland
As the enforcement authority for CITES, the FSVO plays an important role in protecting and conserving animal and plant species and their habitats. Switzerland generally requires an import or export licence for specimens covered by CITES. These licences are issued by the FSVO.
Press release Species conservation: Swiss expert is new chair of CITES Animals Committee (in French)
Interview with Mathias Lörtscher: "Banning everything is not the way forward" (PDF, 138 kB, 06.02.2017)
Last modification 18.09.2020