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Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention or CMS) was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1983.

Convention summary

Contracting Parties work together to conserve migratory species and their habitats by providing strict protection for endangered migratory species (listed in Appendix I of the Convention), concluding multilateral Agreements for the conservation and management of migratory species which require or would benefit from international co-operation (listed in Appendix II), and by undertaking co-operative research activities.



CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

Migration is a natural phenomenon by which individuals of a given species move between areas which they inhabit at different times of the year. Migratory species exploit resources and environments cyclically in places that may be unsustainable or unsuitable for continuous use. To complete their annual (or in some cases multi-annual) cycles, migratory species need all the different areas through which they pass, (of all the links in the chain, so to speak) to remain available. To conserve species whose movements regularly cross-national borders, international co-operation is therefore of vital importance.  Threats in any part of an annual cycle can affect a large part of the entire population of a migratory species, and therefore environmental management actions for migrants need to be co-ordinated across habitat types, seasons, and jurisdictions.


Implementation in the UK

The UK ratified the Convention on Migratory Species in 1985. The legal requirement for the strict protection of Appendix I species is provided by the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981 as amended), the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, and the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. In addition, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW) was enacted in England and Wales to strengthen the protection of certain species by increasing penalties and enforcement powers; and strengthened the protection of sites from damage caused by third parties.

CMS is a framework convention which supports the development of agreements (which may or may not be legally binding), and Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to support action by two or more Countries.  Parties to an Agreement or MoU do not have to be Parties to the main Convention.

The UK has currently ratified four legally-binding Agreements under the Convention:

The UK has also ratified the following MoUs:

The UK is also a non-Party range state to the:

JNCC provides scientific and technical advice to the Government and the country nature conservation bodies on the interpretation, application and implementation of the Convention and its agreements. This includes advising on the appropriateness of protection proposals; having input to the research work and advising on the potential impact of resolutions or guidance proposed for adoption at Conferences of the Parties.



International conventions

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