Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

The Bonn Convention, also known as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), is an environmental treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme. Its aim is to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their ranges. The CMS was first signed in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1983. As of 2023, 132 countries are party to the Convention.

Background and Origin

The idea for a convention to protect migratory species originated from a recommendation at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. This led to the drafting of the initial text by a team in the Federal Republic of Germany in the late 1970s. Significant contributors included conservationist Bernhard Grzimek and ethologist Konrad Lorenz.

The text emphasizes the need for international cooperation given the migrations of wildlife across national jurisdictions. It calls migratory species an “irreplaceable part of the earth’s natural system” that should be conserved for the benefit of current and future generations. The convention currently lists over 5,000 migratory species under varying degrees of endangerment.

Key Provisions

The key objectives of the Bonn Convention are:

  • To promote actions for the protection and management of migratory species
  • To coordinate policies and regulations among range states
  • To address threats like habitat loss, barriers to migration and hunting

Strategies to meet these goals include research, monitoring, transboundary conservation plans, captive breeding programs and agreements with industries like energy and fishing to minimize harm to migratory animals.

There are also binding Agreements and non-binding Memoranda of Understanding that require signatories to implement tailored conservation plans for species at risk like gorillas, whales, albatrosses and various sharks.

Administrative Structure

Decision-making, funding and implementation bodies guide activities under the CMS. These include:

  • The Conference of Parties (COP) which meets every three years
  • The Standing Committee which oversees activities between COPs
  • The Scientific Council that provides expert guidance
  • The Secretariat coordinates daily operations and policies

Parties that sign the convention agree to strictly protect endangered migratory species, conserve habitats and manage factors impairing their migration. The CMS maintains vital databases, produces research and runs awareness campaigns on various migratory animals worldwide.

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