Our Work


IUCN seeks to promote the conservation and sustainable use of wild species subject to use and trade by:

  • Identifying situations where trade in wild species appears unsustainable or detrimental to the status of non-target species
  • Focusing on gaps in knowledge of the biology and status of species in trade
  • Providing advice on actions and/or mechanisms necessary to ensure the conservation of species detrimentally affected by trade
  • Ensuring that the SSC's expertise is used to inform the decisions of CITES and other relevant agreements
  • Providing scientific support and capacity building to the Parties to CITES (and other relevant international agreements) in implementing conventions at national and regional levels
  • Increasing understanding about CITES and other relevant agreements within the SSC network
  • Increasing the understanding of the value of species to human livelihoods.


Working with CITES

The IUCN Global Species Programme provides general assistance to the CITES Secretariat and Parties between the meetings of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) by reviewing, and where necessary, strengthening the capacities of their Scientific Authorities to undertake the monitoring and assessment procedures for wild species in trade. Read more.

Understanding sustainability of use and trade

To increase the understanding of the factors affecting sustainable use of wildlife,  workshops have been carreid out on the conservation impact of captive breeding and on wild meat. The programme is also a partner in projects on the Precautionary Principle and Sustainable Use and a project to revise the Guidelines on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants (1993).

Assessing the impact of a trade and use through field projects

Where there is insufficient knowledge of the basic biology and ecology of a species, to be able to assess the sustainability of the trade, the programme has at times undertaken field projects to collect this basic information.

Supporting Action Plans in situations where trade is unsustainable

Support is also provided to IUCN SSC Specialist Group Action Planning to identify species affected by trade which may be of conservation concern. The aims are to ensure that the SSC can provide high-quality information to policy makers, determine where further information is needed, stimulate the information collection and work with interested parties to promote appropriate conservation action.

Contributing to other Policy documents concerning trade issues.

The programme also contributes to policy documents, e.g. CITES Guidelines for the Disposition of Confiscated Specimens, IUCN Re-introduction Guidelines, and IUCN Guidelines for the Prevention of Biodiversity Loss due to Biological Invasion.

Developing initiatives to assess the value of species to human livelihoods to stimulate better species management

Work is currently underway to develop new initiatives to gather data on species use, trade and species links to livelihoods in association with others working on biodiversity assessments in the IUCN Species Programme. Providing information on the importance of species to livelihoods will help strengthen the case for the conservation and sustainable use of species and help determine appropriate conservation measures.

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