Journal Article: Long Delays In Banning Trade In Threatened Species
The harvesting of wild animals and plants for international trade affects thousands of species, and compounds ongoing ex-tinction threats such as habitat loss and climate change (1-4). The loss of over-exploited species can result in cascading effects that reduce overall ecosystem functioning (4-5). The primary interna-tional framework for preventing the loss of species due to international wildlife trade is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Given that CITES aims to be as scientifically based as pos-sible (7), we analyzed how quickly spe-cies that are identified by the Interna-tional Union for the Conservation of Na-ture (IUCN) “Red List” as being threat-ened from trade are subsequently pro-tected under CITES. The Red List repre-sents an authoritative body of scientific knowledge regarding extinction risks. We find that in nearly two-thirds of the cases the CITES process of regulating trade in threatened species lags consid-erably behind the IUCN Red List identifi-cation of species in need of protection from trade Such delay in the application of scientific knowledge to policy formu-lation could result in the extinction of species. With signatories to CITES set to gather in June 2019 to determine which additional species merit protection and which no longer require it, we suggest opportunities to improve this process.