Published 16 November 2021


Cracking the Code: How product codes can support conservation and combat climate change

For global governments to combat the climate crisis with nature-based solutions, TRAFFIC reveals how examining HS Codes, used to monitor worldwide goods trade, can uncover illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade patterns that may have consequences on climate action and conservation efforts.

Cracking the Code Platform

Cracking the Code: An analysis of customs HS codes used in the trade in wild animals and plants from Africa to Asia

Report author(s):
E. Drinkwater, W. Outhwaite, T. Oldfield, C. Floros

Publication date:
November 2021


  1. The UN Comtrade Database is a compilation of reported global transactions, categorised into HS codes, voluntarily submitted by trading parties.
  2. The Harmonized System classification is a six-digit standard code used to classify globally traded products. They are currently used by customs authorities around the world to identify the duty and tax rates for specific types of products.

This report was generously funded by Arcadia; a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin via TRAFFIC’s Reducing Trade Threats to Africa’s Wild Species and Ecosystems (ReTTA) Project.

About Arcadia

Arcadia is a charitable foundation that works to protect nature, preserve cultural heritage and promote open access to knowledge. Since 2002 Arcadia has awarded more than $1 billion to organizations around the world.