Scientific authority: Non-detriment findings

In terms of Section 61 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), the Scientific Authority is required to make and publish annual non-detriment findings on impacts of international trade on threatened or protected species.

In terms of Article IV of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an export permit for specimens of an Appendix II species or for specimens of an Appendix I species that were artificially propagated or captive bred for commercial purposes shall only be granted when the Scientific Authority of the State of export indicates that export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species.

A non-detriment finding (NDF) is a science-based risk assessment where the vulnerability of a species is considered in relation to how well it is managed (see image below). The Scientific Authority of South Africa uses the CITES NDF checklist to make non-detriment findings. Factors considered include the biological characteristics of the species and its national status (distribution, abundance, trends and threats), as well as the management, control and monitoring of harvest, protection of the species from harvest, and incentives and benefits arising from harvest. Trade can be allowed for species assessed to be at low risk, or moderate risk in some cases (above dotted line in image below), whereas trade is not advisable for species at high risk.

NDF graph

To date, 25 non-detriment findings have been approved by the Scientific Authority (download), and the Minister of Environmental Affairs has formally published non-detriment findings for the white rhino, the hippopotamus, and the Critically Endangered Encephalartos species (download).

Last updated on 18 October 2017
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