Protection from extinction
Alongside the destruction of habitats, the economic exploitation of animals and plants is one of the greatest dangers facing the animal and plant worlds. As a result of international trade, many species of plants and animals have depleted populations or are even threatened with extinction. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, in short the Washington Convention, is a legally binding international agreement dating from 1973 to protect endangered species of animals and plants. It is also known internationally as CITES--Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The Convention which has a Secretariat in Geneva currently has 175 member countries. Germany acceded in 1976.
At the Conferences of the Parties to the Convention held every two to three years, the list of endangered animal and plant species in the Appendices to the Convention are updated and measures adopted to improve the protection of endangered species. The next conference will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 13 to 25 March 2010.
In the EU, the Washington Convention was implemented through regulations. Council Regulation 338/97 is designed to monitor trade in endangered wild animals and plant species in line with the CITES by laying down provisions for import, export and marketing in the European Union.
Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
The responsibility in individual states and the formalities governing documentation have been laid down at international level. Alongside the requisite export document from the country of origin, an import permit is required for import into the EU. The competent authority in Germany is the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. As the import of souvenirs is the most common cause for the provisions of the Washington Convention being infringed, the Federal Foreign Office provides detailed advice for tourists.