Research Topic

Towards Legal, Sustainable and Equitable Wildlife Trade

About this Research Topic

Poverty reduction, inequity amelioration and biodiversity conservation are among the primary goals of many international development and conservation efforts, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Sustainable use and trade of wildlife resources are usually seen as important means for achieving these goals. However, it is widely known that the trade of wild species is unsustainable. Increasingly, wildlife trade is becoming one of the biggest causes of species endangerment and biodiversity loss.

Understanding wildlife trade and framing effective conservation interventions are complicated tasks. This complexity results not only from the diversity and extent of species and actors involved in trade and the heterogeneous social, economic, cultural and ecological contexts where extraction and trade take place, but also from the need for a multifaceted approach, whereby the divergent or even competing goals, priorities and interests that exist between biodiversity conservation and human development can be reconciled and integrated.

Over the past decades, there has been a tendency toward reliance on regulatory controls as the predominant remedial response to trade-related conservation concerns, at both national and international levels. However, studies have shown that simply banning or restricting wildlife trade may lead to undesirable results for both people and conservation, including loss of economic incentives for conservation, adverse impacts on livelihoods, and perpetuation of black markets. For conservation efforts to be effective, additional interventions for wildlife trade, especially non-regulatory measures such as community- and market-based approaches, are also urgently needed.

Against this background, the goal of this Research Topic is to compile, from a wide range of contexts and geographies, an interdisciplinary system of knowledge (including indigenous and local knowledge) conducive to the understanding and resolution of the conflicts and trade-offs between local needs and development and regional and global conservation priorities. This collection will be developed in parallel and complementary to an ongoing global collaborative assessment on the sustainable use of wild species carried out by IPBES, to be published in 2022.

More specifically, we intend to address issues concerning the conceptualization of sustainability and equity for wildlife trade under various socio-ecological contexts; current status and trends of legal and illegal trade; drivers of unsustainable, inequitable and illegal trade; future scenario projection; and innovative methods for quantifying licit and illicit trade. We are particularly interested in multifaceted conservation interventions that facilitate the establishment or strengthening of conditions for promoting the sustainable, equitable and legal trade of wildlife, including both regulatory and non-regulatory measures, across temporal and spatial scales and geographies. These may include, but are not limited to: impediments to effective regulation of wildlife trade at the national level; circumstances under which supply-side conservation is (un)likely to work; demand-reduction strategies informed through an understanding of consumer preferences, key utilitarian values and social/cultural functions of the species concerned, and their consumption dynamics; and models of local partnership that make for an enduring, positive incentive for protection of natural habitats and wild species.

We welcome contributions in various article types, including original research, reviews, mini reviews, methods, hypothesis and theory articles, perspectives, data reports, policy brief reports, commentary and opinion articles, and policy and practice reviews. We envision a collection of at least twenty contributions from experts all around the world and from across all relevant disciplines.


Keywords: CITES, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Intergovernmental Platform Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), biodiversity conservation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Poverty reduction, inequity amelioration and biodiversity conservation are among the primary goals of many international development and conservation efforts, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Sustainable use and trade of wildlife resources are usually seen as important means for achieving these goals. However, it is widely known that the trade of wild species is unsustainable. Increasingly, wildlife trade is becoming one of the biggest causes of species endangerment and biodiversity loss.

Understanding wildlife trade and framing effective conservation interventions are complicated tasks. This complexity results not only from the diversity and extent of species and actors involved in trade and the heterogeneous social, economic, cultural and ecological contexts where extraction and trade take place, but also from the need for a multifaceted approach, whereby the divergent or even competing goals, priorities and interests that exist between biodiversity conservation and human development can be reconciled and integrated.

Over the past decades, there has been a tendency toward reliance on regulatory controls as the predominant remedial response to trade-related conservation concerns, at both national and international levels. However, studies have shown that simply banning or restricting wildlife trade may lead to undesirable results for both people and conservation, including loss of economic incentives for conservation, adverse impacts on livelihoods, and perpetuation of black markets. For conservation efforts to be effective, additional interventions for wildlife trade, especially non-regulatory measures such as community- and market-based approaches, are also urgently needed.

Against this background, the goal of this Research Topic is to compile, from a wide range of contexts and geographies, an interdisciplinary system of knowledge (including indigenous and local knowledge) conducive to the understanding and resolution of the conflicts and trade-offs between local needs and development and regional and global conservation priorities. This collection will be developed in parallel and complementary to an ongoing global collaborative assessment on the sustainable use of wild species carried out by IPBES, to be published in 2022.

More specifically, we intend to address issues concerning the conceptualization of sustainability and equity for wildlife trade under various socio-ecological contexts; current status and trends of legal and illegal trade; drivers of unsustainable, inequitable and illegal trade; future scenario projection; and innovative methods for quantifying licit and illicit trade. We are particularly interested in multifaceted conservation interventions that facilitate the establishment or strengthening of conditions for promoting the sustainable, equitable and legal trade of wildlife, including both regulatory and non-regulatory measures, across temporal and spatial scales and geographies. These may include, but are not limited to: impediments to effective regulation of wildlife trade at the national level; circumstances under which supply-side conservation is (un)likely to work; demand-reduction strategies informed through an understanding of consumer preferences, key utilitarian values and social/cultural functions of the species concerned, and their consumption dynamics; and models of local partnership that make for an enduring, positive incentive for protection of natural habitats and wild species.

We welcome contributions in various article types, including original research, reviews, mini reviews, methods, hypothesis and theory articles, perspectives, data reports, policy brief reports, commentary and opinion articles, and policy and practice reviews. We envision a collection of at least twenty contributions from experts all around the world and from across all relevant disciplines.


Keywords: CITES, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Intergovernmental Platform Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), biodiversity conservation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

22 June 2020 Abstract
19 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

22 June 2020 Abstract
19 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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