Much of the current unsustainable use of wild species is linked to the commercialization of wildlife resources, to the harvest for sale of animals and plants at levels beyond which they can recover, and/or in a manner that disrupts the surrounding ecosystem. The drivers of commercial harvest may be close at hand, for example meat markets in villages within a species' habitat, or thousands of miles distant, as is the case with the trade in many timber and medicinal species. Efforts to ensure that harvest rates are maintained within sustainable levels, i.e. to secure sustainable use of wild species, may be overwhelmed by such market forces. Similarly, efforts to shift a greater share of the economic benefits resulting from commercialization toward in situ conservation and/or communities living nearest the habitat of species subject to trade are likely to fail if market forces and fluctuations are not adequately taken into account. It is therefore critical that those seeking to apply the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use of Biodiversity think of 'use' in terms of a process that stretches from initial harvest to final sale and use.

The importance and challenges of applying the principles and guidelines in the context of strong and often shifting market forces is illustrated briefly below, and suggestions provided for addressing these challenges in an increasingly globalised marketplace. This includes mechanisms for making more direct links between producers and consumers, and the potential role that intermediaries, e.g. IUCN members, can play in that regard. The discussion is structured to consider issues of research and information (Principle 6), valuation and benefit sharing (Principles 10, 12, 13), governance (Principles 1-3, 8, 9), management (Principles 4, 5, 7, 11) and education (Principle 14).

Research and information (Principle 6)

There is little argument that having accurate information is the key to designing and implementing successful sustainable use strategies. A major emphasis has been placed on collecting such information, especially in situ, with the main focus usually on the biological attributes of the species and/or ecosystems subject to use. Relatively less attention is paid to the socio-economic characteristics of current uses or current users. This is particularly true when the users are thousands of miles away. Local communities and/or project implementers rarely have access to market information within the nearest urban area, let alone in another continent. They usually have even less ability to predict market trends. Even where it is clear that such information is needed to design a successful sustainable use programme, donors may be reticent to pay for it. Donors investing in conservation of African wildlife may not see the immediate relevance or merit of supporting research in Asia.

The lack of this market information can be risky in several ways. First, the inability to anticipate the strength of demand may mean that insufficient resources are allocated toward ensuring that harvest rates are kept within sustainable levels. For species with persistent or increasing demand, especially those for which supplies are limited and/or declining, the incentive to poach will often exceed the risk of detection and/or prosecution.

In cases where demand is transient, the product is widely available and/or substitutable, it may be that the costs of establishing a sustainable management plan exceed the benefits to be gained by the producers and/or the species/ecosystem involved. In other words, a lot of effort for not much return. This does nothing to promote the future cause of conservation, especially among those most affected: the communities whose time was invested trying to get it off the ground.

Much of TRAFFIC's work is devoted to increasing understanding of the markets for, and associated trade dynamics of, the trade in wildlife and wildlife products. For example, research on the trade in the highly valuable agarwood, a resinous wood used for traditional medicine, incense and perfume, has shown that much of the trade from Southeast Asia funnels through Singapore en route to the Middle East and East Asia. Unfortunately, much of the trade is currently unsustainable and/or illegal. While currently a conservation threat, the high value of agarwood and persistent demand (its use has been recorded back thousands of years) provides a sustainable development opportunity. Any efforts to transform the trade, however, will require action by government authorities in Singapore, the main conduit for agarwood leaving Southeast Asia, and support from sellers and consumers in end markets.

Valuation and benefit sharing (Principles 10, 12, 13)

Effective valuation of wildlife resources, and the sharing of the benefits resulting from the use of those resources, will depend on sustainable use projects first doing their 'socioeconomic' homework. It is rare that local producers or project managers will have access to information regarding the various and changing potential commercial values of the resources being traded, and how these relate to other values, e.g. in relation to subsistence use and cultural values. Furthermore, even if they have access to such information, it will be difficult to anticipate accurately what the effect will be of changing the income stream associated with commercial trade. Some studies have shown, for example, that an increase in the commercial value of non-timber forest products may result in the rural poor shifting to depending on income from forest products at the expense of supplies for household use, and of traders exercising closer control over supplies. Where demand for products is of sufficient scale, or certain qualities are desired, manufacturers may shift to more intensive or ex situ production. This pattern has already been demonstrated for a variety of species including numerous species of orchids, cacti, wild birds, several crocodile species, and some medicinal plants. This generally has the effect of shifting the benefits away from the original producers, and can shift incentives away from investment in conservation and/or sustainable management in situ.

These concerns are well-reflected in Principles 10 and 12. The question is how to address them in the absence of adequate knowledge. The situation is likely to be easier for species for which ex situ production is unlikely to be feasible, such as long-lived animal species and plants with particular habitat requirements, and for species where wild products are more valuable than domestically produced ones, as is the case with ginseng species.

A variety of institutions are seeking to address this dynamic, the most widely known of which are third party certification programmes such as that of the Forest Stewardship Council. Conservation International has undertaken projects on specific species, for example Tagua Nuts, or vegetable ivory, which combined strong interaction with the manufacturers as well as work on the ground with producers. The success of these and other initiatives depends in part on awareness and education among traders and end consumers, a point reflected in Principle 14.

Organisations such as the FAO have developed toolkits to inform market research as a component of forest product development projects, and CIFOR has undertaken research to assess the socioeconomic outcomes of non-timber forest product (NTFP) development projects. It is critical that the lessons learned by institutions such as CIFOR are shared more widely to aid others seeking to promote or alter commercialisation of wildlife products as part of a sustainable use scheme. It will also be critical that sufficient resources are made available to gain a wider understanding of the trade.

Although internalising the cost of conservation within a management area is generally considered preferable to relying on outside investment, relying on sustainable use of natural resources is often not sufficient to cover all such costs. Ongoing investment may be required, including with regard to ensuring sufficient returns to producers to make it worthwhile for them to participate in sustainable use schemes. This may take the form of long-term marketing or research support, for example. Similarly, it should be recognised that passing the full costs of implementing a trade control system to producers could result in production becoming uneconomical relative to other uses, or provide an incentive for 'rent capture' by government authorities, e.g. through increasing the potential for corruption. Equally, passing all of these costs to consumers may shift demand toward substitute products. When implementing Principle 13, therefore it may be that in some cases consideration will need to be given to an alternative view in the short term, that of sustainable use reducing the costs of other components of a conservation scheme, but not replacing them altogether.

Governance (Principles 1-3, 8, 9)

Five of the Principles deal primarily with governance, the need for governance frameworks to be supportive of the implementation of the other principles, and to be developed in full consultation with indigenous and other local stakeholders.

In the case of international trade, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been the subject of significant attention and concern with regard to its impacts on the ability of peoples and governments to trade commercially in native wildlife resources. CITES is frequently viewed in a negative context in this regard, as a barrier to funnelling funds into local conservation and development efforts. However, a study undertaken by the International Institute for Environment and Development and TRAFFIC demonstrated that national access, harvest and trade control policies for native wildlife generally had a far greater impact than did CITES-related trade controls. CITES trade controls were found to correlate with a shift into ex situ production for some species, although information was insufficient to indicate whether this shift would have taken place in any event owing to market forces.

There is increasing acceptance within CITES of the need to consider socio-economic as well as biological information in determining the best means to reduce unsustainable trade in wild species. A major step forward was taken at the October 2004 CITES meeting , where the Parties adopted a resolution and several decisions regarding application of the Addis Ababa principles within CITES.

Thus far, sustainable use proponents have paid little attention to another suite of international wildlife trade controls that are having an increasing impact on access to foreign markets - those related to quality and hygiene. This is particularly true in the case of products to be consumed, e.g. food and medicines. Export from Amazonian countries to the European Union of one of the most well-known NTFPs, Brazil Nuts, has been constrained by the need to meet EU import standards for contamination with aflatoxin. Quality control standards for consumables are rapidly becoming the norm, with small scale producers likely to have difficulties meeting them. Those seeking to promote sustainable use projects based on international trade in food and medicinal products will therefore need to pay much closer attention to such import requirements in future.

Management (Principles 4, 5, 7, 11)

The management-related principles were well-covered by other speakers. One point to add would be to encourage that adaptive management be as sensitive to changes in markets and local socio-economic conditions as it is to shifts in the status of species being harvested. The best sustainable management regime in the world may rapidly be undermined if demand for the products being harvested skyrockets or plummets. Such shifts in demand may come from unexpected sources. The recent SARS outbreaks, for example, increased demand for traditional Chinese medicine, with large increases in the trade of liquorice species, which had already been identified as declining in some areas owing to overharvest. Similarly, anecdotal information indicates that fish consumption increased significantly as people turned away from eating other wild sources of meat.

Changes in transport infrastructure can also have a major impact on demand, and therefore management regimes. For example, in Tanzania's Miombo woodlands, wood harvest for timber and charcoal production is expected to increase significantly in the wake of the opening of a bridge across the Rufiji River, allowing transport by road from the woodlands to the capital city, Dar es Salaam.

Education (Principle 14)

It will be important for 'stakeholders' as referred to in Principle 14 to include traders and consumers, even consumers who live thousands of miles away from the origin of species in trade. Those engaged in promoting sustainable use programmes should seek to take advantage of the increasing sympathy for 'green' and 'fair trade' products within European and North American markets. It will also be important to consider how to create similar markets for these products within developing countries. In cases where such markets do not exist or are unlikely to be created without a huge injection of funds, consideration also needs to be given to other approaches, e.g. encouraging industry to adopt codes of conduct. National governments should also be included among the stakeholder groups targeted for education, in order to influence the development of management and trade policies. Multi-stakeholder processes should be convened in order to develop appropriate policy guidance for both the public and private sectors. One such process currently underway is the revision of the 1993 WHO/IUCN/WWF Guidelines on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants. WWF, the IUCN Medicinal Plant Specialist Group and Species Programme, TRAFFIC and the World Health Organisation are coordinating a series of consultations to update these guidelines and provide practical policy advice to the medicinal plant industry, governments, healthcare organisations and conservation and development agencies.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The above perspectives may appear overly negative to some, especially given the limitation on resources. It is true that projects seeking to promote sustainable use through application of the Addis Ababa principles will always be operating with imperfect knowledge, and waiting for 'near perfect' knowledge is often not an option. However, working in a vacuum should also not be an option - whether trade involves wildlife or pencils, businesses that do not understand their markets or make effective links along the trade chain from producer to consumer, are likely to fail. Because sustainable use affects both biodiversity and human livelihoods, we cannot afford to fail.

Referring again to the point raised under management, it is important that adaptive management is responsive to changes in markets as well as changes in the status of the wild resources. In addition, it is critical that a body of experience is developed such that the factors contributing to the success or failure of sustainable use based approaches to conservation and development are understood, and can be addressed. It was just such practical experience that led to the development of the principles. What is needed now is an even more rigorous approach when it comes to evaluating what is and isn't working in conjunction with the Guidelines' implementation. The IUCN Sustainable Use Specialist Group, Species Programme, Asia and South America Regional Offices, TRAFFIC and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology are collaborating to compile such information and develop an analytical tool that will support future decision making. The project is collecting information on the socio-economic characteristics of use, including in relation to distant markets. In time, it should provide a tool capable of helping identify ways to link producers and consumers in ways more likely to lead to sustainable outcomes.

Teresa Mulliken is Research and Policy Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC International. Email: