Migratory Birds and the 1979 Bonn Convention

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Byline: Francis N. Tolentino

IT is indeed a delight to watch the many kinds of birds that flock to the almost 70 hectares of wetlands in Candaba. Flying from as far as China and Australia, these birds find in the Philippines a haven where they may be able to fly freely - safe and protected.

The importance of protecting these migratory birds, as well as other creatures that move from one place to another, is globally recognized. As early as the 1950's the International Convention for the Protection of Birds was held in Paris (October 18, 1950) to create global awareness for the protection of traveling birds. The 1979 Bonn Convention, also known as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), was also a significant treaty that further highlighted the importance of protecting and conserving migrating wild animals.

The objective of the Bonn Convention was "to protect those species of wild animals that migrate across or outside national boundaries." Adopted on 23 June 1979 in Bonn, Germany, this convention was entered into force on November 1, 1983 and later had the following countries as signatories: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mali, Monaco, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Zaire, and the European Economic Community. The United Nations Environmental Programme was made the CMS Secretariat.

Acknowledging the importance of conserving migratory species, signatories to the convention pledged "to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered and to protect endangered migratory species." In order to accomplish such goals, the participating countries endeavoured to:

1. Promote, cooperate in or support research relating to migratory species

2. Provide immediate protection for migratory species

3. Conclude agreements covering the conservation and management of migratory species

4. Conserve or restore the habitats of endangered species

5. Prevent, remove, compensate for or minimize the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that impede the migration of the species

6. Prevent, reduce or control, to the extent feasible and appropriate, factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species

One significant decision of the CMS Council which might relate to countries in Asia that are visited by these migratory birds is Council Decision 2006/871/EC of July 18, 2005. …