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:
January 2020
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.

COP12 was held in Manila, Philippines in October 2017 and was attended by over 500 delegates from more than 91 countries. It was the largest meeting to date, and the first to be held in Asia. The theme of CoP12 was “Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People.” CoP13 will be hosted in Gandhinagar, India in Febuary 2020. 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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