Guest Article #9

CMS Networking for Migratory Species: The Way Forward

The upcoming 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) taking place from 20-25 November, in Bergen, Norway, will be another step towards improving species conservation in the more than 30-year history of the Convention.

COP 10's motto “Networking for migratory species” implies a two-fold approach. First, ecological networks and critical sites are crucial for migratory species conservation. Migratory species depend on a well preserved network of ecosystems, such as stop over sites and feeding and breeding areas. As habitat loss is among the primary threats to migratory animals, the conservation of habitats and the maintenance of connecting corridors are indispensible for their survival.

The second approach targets stronger collaboration with governments, other UN organizations, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and NGOs as well as the corporate sector. Networking for animals on the move is a promising way of rallying support to conserve endangered species. In this regard, a report on ecological networks as a tool for migratory species conservation, titled “Living Planet, Connected Planet: Preventing the End of the World's Wildlife Migrations through Ecological Networks,” will be launched as the core publication of the COP.

Together with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), CMS will highlight the importance of integrating migratory species conservation into national biodiversity species action plans (NBSAPs) and will launch guidelines on how best to do so. Collaboration between CMS and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on preventing illegal trade in Saiga horn, and the joint work of CMS and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) as members of the Scientific Task Force on Wildlife Diseases regarding migration ecology and disease transmission will be carried forward.

Challenges to mitigate bird electrocution on power lines and recommendations for actions to reduce the level of bird mortality in the African-Eurasian region are an important topic on the COP agenda. CMS and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) will present to the COP the results of the review and guidelines to mitigate the conflict between migratory birds and electricity power grids in the African Eurasian Region. The German electricity company RWE provided financial support to the study.

CMS is further developing its partnership concept, which not only includes NGO partners as major drivers in the context of CMS conservation instruments, but also addresses corporate sponsors and other potential donors.

For the first time at a COP, CMS will convene a Donors Meeting for interested government and non-governmental bodies as well as the private sector to enhance collaboration among the Secretariat and its donors. Participants will have the opportunity to present pledges to support the implementation of the Convention.

For the third time in its history, the UNEP/CMS Thesis Award will be presented by the air carrier Deutsche Lufthansa as a member of the association “Friends of CMS” to promote research on the biology of migratory species. This year's winner will receive the award for her innovative thesis based on practical experience to use bees as a natural deterrent against crop-raiding elephants in Eastern Africa.

Two days earlier, the Scientific Council will provide scientific advice to the Conference of the Parties. Seven species proposals submitted by the Parties for inclusion in the CMS Appendices will be discussed. Charismatic species such as the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris), the Argali Sheep (Ovis ammon), and the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) have been proposed respectively for Appendix I and II, Appendix II and Appendix I listings. Conservation priorities and policy options for global bird flyways will also be an important topic on the agenda.

The status of the Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna Concerted Action will be reviewed to assess prospects for a future CMS instrument. Central Eurasian Arid Land Mammals Concerted Action, which aims to promote the conservation of mammals in drylands, including the Bactrian camel, the Saiga antelope, gazelles, the wild ass and the snow leopard, will be reviewed together with a report on the impact of barriers to migration on terrestrial mammals in Mongolia plus other proposals to reduce threats and barriers to migration. CMS continues to address increasing challenges to migratory species.

A process reviewing the future institutional, legal and organizational implications of the CMS and its family necessitated a proposal to be discussed to update the current CMS Strategic Plan to 2014 and establish a process to develop a new long-term plan for the future. Policy proposals on ecological networks, power lines as barriers to migration for bats and birds, flyways, wildlife diseases posing a increasing threat to wildlife, livestock and people as well as ways to address marine debris and bycatch of marine species will be at the centre of discussion. Activities to mitigate climate change as one of the primary drivers of biodiversity loss will be crucial in assisting migratory species to adapt to climate change.

Support from Parties towards conserving migratory species is increasing. More countries will sign the Memoranda of Understanding on the conservation of dugongs, migratory sharks and birds of prey.