Conservation of migratory wild animals species: convention

Official title: Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

Subject category:
Biodiversity / Ecosystems
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding treaty
  • Canada has not ratified this agreement and therefore it is not in force in Canada.
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is a United Nations convention ratified by 130 countries as of November 1, 2019.
Lead & partner departments:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
For further information:
Web links:
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals website
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
February 2022
Reference #:

Plain language summary

Many wild animals migrate, including birds, mammals and fish. When species migrate between countries, it is useful for countries to work together to ensure protection for these species wherever they occur. CMS provides a way for countries to work together to ensure species’ migration can still continue without barriers, and to address issues such as habitat destruction and over-harvest.

Canada is not a member of CMS. We already have agreements, some 100 years old, with other countries to protect our migratory species. Canada continues to follow the work of CMS and supports its work. Canada participates in CMS species-specific agreements where needed.


The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the Bonn Convention) was signed in Bonn, Germany, on 23 June 1979.

It aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic, and avian migratory species throughout their range.

Key elements

The Convention on Migratory Species accomplishes its aim through the listing of migratory species under two appendices:

  • Appendix I lists endangered migratory species and includes prohibitions regarding the take of these species.
  • Appendix II lists species that have an ‘unfavourable conservation status’ (as per the conditions set out in the Convention) and encourages range states to draft range-wide agreements for conservation and management of these species.

Expected results

CMS acts as a framework Convention. Activities by CMS Parties may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding.

Canada’s involvement

Following the Report of the CMS Scientific Council’s meeting at the CMS tenth Conference of Parties (COP-10) in November 2011, Parties were urged to consider the polar bear, along with other species, for listing under the CMS, as a result of direct or indirect impacts of climate change.  In June 2014, a proposal to consider the polar bear for an Appendix II listing was sponsored by Norway, as the only polar bear range state signatory to the CMS.  This proposal was on the agenda at the November 2014 CMS COP and polar bears were added to Appendix II.

Other proposals of interest to Canada are migratory birds, including Canada Warbler and Semi Palmatted Sand Piper.

CMS CoP13, with the Standing Committee meetings, was hosted in Gandhinagar, India 15-22 February 2020. The theme was ““Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”. It was the largest CMS COP ever in the history of the Convention, with 2,550 people attending including 263 delegates representing 82 Parties and 11 delegates from 5 non-Party countries.

Ten new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13 including 3 for CMS Appendix II (The Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and the Tope Shark) and 7 for CMS Appendix I which provides the strictest protection (Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross and Oceanic White-tip Shark). CMS COP13 also adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration, which calls for migratory species and the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritized in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The first ever report on the Status of Migratory Species, presented to CMS COP13, also showed that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining.

Canada has in the past attended Conferences of the Parties as an observer, and Canada has participated in some of the Convention’s work for bird conservation.

Results / progress


Not applicable as Canada is not a Party. However, Canada follows developments of the Convention.

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