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State of the World’s Migratory Species Report: Alarming Threats and the Need for Global Action — Global Issues

Gazelle goiter: CMS credit
Gazelle goiter: CMS credit
  • by Alison Kentish (Dominic)
  • Inter Press Service

The report was launched at the opening press conference of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on February 12 .

This is the first comprehensive assessment of migratory animals, that is, species that travel to different regions of the world each year. They include oceanic species like sharks and sea turtles, land animals like elephants, as well as those that undertake air travel like birds and butterflies. The report’s authors say the remarkable journeys of migratory species do more than connect the world; they offer a unique angle to research and understand the scale of global change.

The report concludes that the overall conservation status of migratory species is deteriorating. Its results were described as “surprising” by the executive secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Amy Fraenkel.

“Overexploitation emerges as the greatest threat to many migratory species, surpassing habitat loss and fragmentation,” she said in the report. “This includes the taking of wildlife through intentional taking, for example through hunting and fishing, as well as the incidental capture of non-target species. Bycatch of non-target species in fisheries is a leading cause of mortality for many CMS-listed marine species.

Some of the troubling findings include population declines for nearly half of CMS migratory species, threats of extinction for almost all (97%) of CMS-listed fish, and increasing extinction risk for species migratory species globally, including those not listed in CMS.

“Migratory species are of ecological, economic and cultural importance. Within ecosystems, they serve a variety of crucial functions, ranging from large-scale transfer of nutrients between environments to the positive impacts of grazing animals on grassland biodiversity,” the report states.

It adds that the habitats and movements of these species are in danger, with half of them experiencing unsustainable levels of human-induced pressure.

“The urgency for action to protect and conserve these species becomes even greater when we consider the integral but underappreciated role they play in maintaining the complex ecosystems that support a healthy planet – for example by transferring nutrients between environments, carrying out migratory grazing that supports the maintenance of carbon storage habitats, as well as pollination and seed dispersal services,” said Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Program of the United Nations for the environment.

The current reality regarding migratory species and the cost of inaction or inadequate action are concerning, but the report is full of both hope and concrete recommendations for global action.

It contains a section dedicated to proposed policy actions. Among the most crucial are the need to combat the unsustainable and illegal harvest of migratory species at national level, measures to reduce bycatch and other accidental captures, and the identification and recognition of all important sites for migratory species.

The recommendations aim to “protect, connect and restore” habitats, combat overexploitation, reduce the harmful impacts of environmental pollution, address the root causes and cross-cutting impacts of climate change and ensure that CMS annexes protect all migratory species requiring other conservation measures. They also call for “follow-up” on global commitments to ecosystem restoration.

“This includes those related to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and Target 2 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework to ensure that at least 30% of terrestrial, inland water and coastal ecosystems and degraded marine areas are effectively restored by 2030. support these efforts, develop and implement national restoration plans focused on restoring and maintaining important habitats for migratory species,” it says.

UNEP’s Inger Andersen says the report is an important step in establishing a roadmap for the conservation of migratory species.

“Given the precarious situation of many of these animals and their essential role in the health and proper functioning of ecosystems, we must not miss this opportunity to act, starting now with the urgent implementation of recommendations made in this report,” she said.

For CMS’s Amy Fraenkel, the conservation of migratory species is a shared responsibility among the world’s nations.

“Migratory species are a shared natural treasure. This landmark report will help support much-needed policy action to ensure they continue to cross the world’s skies, lands, oceans, lakes and rivers.

Report from the UN IPS Office

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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