Nature without borders

Born Free is joining delegates from 133 governments at a key global wildlife meeting to improve protection for migratory species, hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan.

A group of Eurasian lynx sitting close together in a green leafy forest

(c) Hans Veth, Unsplash

Since 2014, Born Free has been engaging with a United Nations’ environmental agreement, known as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and we became an official Partner Organisation in 2018. Through this, we advocate for the protection of wild animals who move from one habitat to another – in search of food, better conditions or a place to breed – from swallows and swifts, to big cats, elephants and dolphins. As you can imagine, protecting such threatened avian, terrestrial and aquatic species, and ensuring their survival throughout their range, requires cooperation and collaboration across borders and between countries. 

Taking place every three years, this year the 14th Conference of the Parties to CMS is happening in the historic city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 12th-19th February, under the slogan ‘Nature knows no borders’. Born Free will be represented at the meeting by our Policy Advisor and Senior Wildlife Consultant Ian Redmond OBE, who said:

“The call of the cuckoo tells us spring is here, and the swooping of swallows and swifts signifies summer – but these birds spend their winter months in Africa feeding on insects whose life cycles are ecologically linked to elephants, apes and lions. It is no good conserving habitat in UK without considering the threats faced by the same individual animals when they spend half the year elsewhere. CMS helps make the world a safer place for migratory species all along their flyways, swimways or pathways, whether between neighbouring countries or the opposite ends of the earth.”

CMS is an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It provides a global platform for the conservation of migratory animals and their habitats, by bringing together governments, scientists and civil society representatives from countries through which migratory animals pass, and by providing the legal foundation for internationally co-ordinated conservation and protection measures. Its 133 signatory governments or ‘Parties’, which include most European, African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Latin American and Australasian countries, are committed to implementing the treaty and abiding by its Resolutions and Decisions.

At the meeting, Born Free will be urging delegates to support proposals to better conserve elephants, chimpanzees, big cats, sharks, whales and dolphins among many other important species. We will be supporting calls to add several species to the list that the Convention works to protect, including the Eurasian lynx, Palla’s cat, the South American guanaco, and a number of marine mammals, reptiles and birds. We will also be promoting progress on the wide range of cross-cutting conservation issues the Convention tries to address, including habitat connectivity, animal culture and social complexity, wildlife crime and trafficking, the health of migratory species, and the interconnection between migratory species protection and climate.

“Uzbekistan is a flyway with cross-roads for many migratory bird species between northern Europe and their wintering grounds in Africa and Asia,” explained Ian Redmond, in a recent article published on Smart Campus Cloud Network and co-authored with Rajendra Shende, former director of UNEP. “We can say that these migratory birds carried the messages of the state of the environment in Europe in the North to Asia in the East and down to Africa in the South and back again! But we humans did not understand their language and just spent time in ‘bird-watching’.

“Let us hope that delegates from 133 countries who will gather in Samarkand will now understand that language and decide which migratory species need greater conservation action and how to coordinate efforts to protect birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and insects as they cross from one nation to another.”

CMS also plays a vital role in the implementation of other globally agreed mechanisms, including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Sustainable Development Agenda, both of which are in Born Free’s sights as we endeavour to ensure wildlife protection and animal welfare are high on the international policy agenda.

At the meeting, a sobering report on the State of the World’s Migratory Species is anticipated, which will act as a timely reminder of the vital importance of the work of the Convention and its significance to wider efforts to halt and reverse the global decline in biodiversity and address the crisis facing the natural world.

For more information about CMS and the key issues that Born Free will be focused on at the meeting, see our briefing for delegates.