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Great news for migratory birds as two historic global agreements are reached to help save them

Last modified: 10 November 2014

Male turtle dove singing

The turtle dove is one of the birds that will benefit from the Landbird Action Plan

Image: Trebol-a

Two historic global agreements that will help save migratory bird species across the world were reached this weekend.

Yesterday [Sunday 9 November] the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) agreed a set of guidelines to tackle causes of poisoning and ratified a groundbreaking Action Plan to save more than 400 bird species.

The Resolution Preventing Poisoning of Migratory Birds supports the guidelines to prevent the risk of poisoning, encourages parties to reduce and minimise poisoning of migratory birds, including recommending a ban on veterinary diclofenac, the phasing out of all lead ammunition, and action on rodenticides, insecticides and poison baits. 

These five groups of poisons were identified as the most significant poisoning risks to migratory birds and the agreement marks a key milestone in ending this threat.

Martin Harper, RSPB Director of Conservation, said: “From what I hear these were not easy negotiations, which makes the news all the more welcome that CMS has arrived at such a good outcome.  I would like to congratulate the UK government for its role in helping to find a way forward.  The UK showed leadership on the issue of poisoning by providing financial support to set up the CMS Preventing Poisoning Working Group, which produced the guidelines that have been ratified today.  I am delighted to see the UK’s positive role continued.

“This is a great example of what can be achieved with reasonable and sensible negotiations, but this agreement is of course only the first step: now stakeholders must work together to find ways to implement the guidelines in all CMS countries.  The RSPB looks forward to playing a role alongside government, industry representatives including hunters and farmers, and other NGOs.

“Although the agreement is not legally binding it clearly signals governments’ commitment to ending poisoning from lead ammunition, diclofenac and other key sources.  This is a great day for our migratory birds and other wildlife.”

The Landbird Action Plan sets out ways to improve the conservation status of more than 400 different species of bird that use the African-Eurasian flyway [see note 1]; identifies the need for landscape-scale protection and recognises how everybody doing their bit can make a real difference.

More than a quarter of the 52 red-listed species of Birds of Conservation Concern are ones which nest in Europe and spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa [see note 2].

Martin Harper commented: “For more than four decades, migratory water birds have been protected, showing that effective, international cooperation for the conservation of migratory birds is possible.  I’m delighted the Action Plan for land birds has now been adopted and work that considers the conservation needs of the birds’ whole lifecycle, across an international flyway – from breeding grounds in the UK to wintering areas in West Africa - will be undertaken.

“Birds such as the turtle dove, cuckoo, nightjar, vultures and many more will all benefit from these two positive and historic agreements.  It’s a good day for conservation.”

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