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CITES Capacity Building

A suite of initiatives which help build, within Kew, nationally and internationally the capacity to adequately implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.


This project seeks to help build capacity within Kew and CITES Parties to implement CITES for plants by providing training and training materials. This occurs at three levels, within Kew, nationally and internationally. Within Kew, we run flexible training modules for international diploma course students, UK-based MSc/BSc courses, Kew staff and students, volunteers and associates. At national level, we provide frequent and regular training for UK enforcement officials namely the UK Border Agency, the Police and the Animal Health Wildlife Inspectorate. In addition, we produce UK targeted guidance manuals and posters for key species in trade – in particular timber – and direct these to individuals who are at the front line of implementation and enforcement.

As well as the input to the international Higher Education Courses at Kew, at international level we produce the CITES User’s Guide series which deals with the major groups of CITES listed plants in trade and looks at implementation, identification and enforcement. The User’s Guides are based on Microsoft PowerPoint presentations which are included in the manuals on a CD-ROM. All the manuals are produced in English, Spanish and French. In addition, we carry out on site and in situ training based on the User’s Guides. The level of in situ training is based on requests from CITES Parties and staff resources. Products include three sets of Timber manuals, CD-ROMs and posters for UK officials at ports of entry and the CITES User’s Guides - CITES and Plants and CITES and Succulents. Since 2006 we have produced CITES and Slipper Orchids and CITES and Timber – Ramin and were a major contributor to Enforcers Wildlife Trade Law: A UK Enforcers Factfile vers. 2. The ramin guide, produced in partnership with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation was launched at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Qatar in March 2010. Training and briefings on medicinal plants are provided by Kew’s Chinese Medicinal Plants Authentication and Conservation Centre (CMPACC).
This programme is linked to the CBD Capacity Building programme and is ongoing with funding coming from a range of sources. We are currently working with The CITES Authorities of Italy, Germany, South Africa and Switzerland on a series of new manuals.

The outputs of this project are trained students and professionals, posters, guides, training manuals and CD-ROMs. The UK CITES enforcement training is now co-ordinated through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) where Kew has played a significant role in promoting the importance of science and in developing innovative capacity building initiatives. Over this period, more than 900 UK Customs Officers, Police, and Wildlife Inspectors were trained on CITES implementation. Training courses were also held for UKOT’s in Anguilla and Montserrat and international training in the Czech Republic, Georgia, France, Poland and Spain. Some 400 overseas CITES workers were trained. As a result of the teams’ work in enforcement and capacity building, Kew was presented with the PAW Partner of the Year Award in 2009 by the UK Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment.

Since the projects inception in 2004 some 8,000 manuals, guides, posters and CD-ROM’s produced in English, French and Spanish have been distributed, free of cost, to CITES workers in some 175 countries.

Key papers published since 2006

  • Conventions and Policy Section (2006). Biodiversity Conventions for Botanists. CD-ROM. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Conventions and Policy Section (2009). Biodiversity Conventions and Checklists for Botanists. CD-ROM. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • McGough, H.N., Roberts, D. L., Brodie, C. & Kowalczyk, J. (2006). CITES and Slipper Orchids, CITES et les orchidées Sabot de Vénus, CITES y las Zapatillas de Venus. Pp. 240 and CD-ROM. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Oldfield, S. & McGough, H.N. (2007). A CITES Manual for Botanic Gardens. Second edition. Pp 24. Produced in Chinese, English, Italian and Spanish. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Richmond, UK.
  • Garrett, L, McGough, H. N., Groves, M. & Clarke G. (2010). CITES & Timber. Ramin. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Project partners and collaborators


Police and Customs
Department of Environment
Anguillan Government 


Customs Investigation Service

Federal Public Agency Health & Environment

Cayman Isands

Department of Environment
Department of Agriculture
HM Customs

Czech Republic

Police and Customs
Environmental Inspectorate
State Phytosanitary Administration
WWF Czech Republic


French Customs
French Environmental Police


Ministry of Environment and Protection


Bundesamt für Naturschutz
(CITES Scientific Authority of Germany)


Ministry of Environment
(CITES Management Authority of Italy)
University of Palermo


Department of Environment
Montserrat Botanic Garden
Enforcement agencies


CITES Authorities of Poland
Police and Customs
Warsaw Botanic Garden
WWF Poland

South Africa

South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI - CITES Scientific Authority of South Africa)


CITES Management Authority
CITES Scientific Authority
International University of Andalucia


CITES Management Authority


Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA)
Crime Prosecution Service
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Joint Nature Conservation Committee
National Wildlife Crime Unit
Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW)
Plant Heritage
Plant Network
Royal Horticultural society (RHS)
The Police
UK Border Agency

International Organisations and Agencies

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)
CITES Secretariat
CITES Plants Committee
European Commission
World Customs Organisation (WCO)

Project funders

United Kingdom

Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development (through the Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP)) 


Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn


Ministry of Environment


World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)