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Conservation of migratory species - Bonn Convention

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Conservation of migratory species - Bonn Convention

The purpose of the Bonn Convention is to develop international cooperation with a view to the conservation of migratory species of wild animals.


Council Decision 82/461/EEC of 24 June 1982 on the conclusion of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals (Bonn Convention).


The objective of the Bonn Convention is the conservation of migratory species worldwide. Wild animals require special attention because of their importance from the environmental, ecological, genetic, scientific, recreational, cultural, educational, social and economic points of view.

The Convention defines the following terms:

  • "migratory species" means the entire population or any geographically separate part of the population of any species or lower taxon of wild animals a significant proportion of whose members cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries;
  • "conservation status of a migratory species" means the sum of the influences acting on the migratory species that may affect its long-term distribution and abundance;
  • "endangered" means that the migratory species is in danger of extinction throughout all or part of the territory of a State.

The parties to the Convention acknowledge the importance of conserving migratory species, and the need to pay special attention to species the conservation status of which is unfavourable.

To avoid any migratory species becoming endangered, the parties must endeavour:

  • to promote, cooperate in or support research relating to migratory species;
  • to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I; and
  • to conclude Agreements covering the conservation and management of migratory species listed in Appendix II.

To protect endangered migratory species, the parties to the Convention will endeavour:

  • to conserve or restore the habitats of endangered species;
  • to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimise the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that impede the migration of the species; and
  • to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species.

Range States of migratory species ("range" means areas of land or water that a migratory species inhabits, crosses or overflies on its migration route) must prohibit the taking of animals belonging to species listed in Appendix I, subject to certain exceptions (taking for scientific purposes, or to enhance the propagation or survival of the species). Such exceptions must be precise as to content and limited in space and time, and should not operate to the disadvantage of the species.

The conservation and management of the species listed in Appendix II may require international agreements.

Guidelines for agreements:

  • restore or maintain the migratory species concerned;
  • cover the whole of the range of the migratory species concerned;
  • be open to accession by all Range States, whether or not they are parties to the Convention;
  • where feasible, concern several species.

Each agreement must contain the following information:

  • the name of the migratory species concerned;
  • its range and migration route;
  • measures for implementing the agreement;
  • procedures for the settlement of disputes;
  • designation of the authority concerned with the implementation of the Agreement.

Agreements may also provide for:

  • research into the species;
  • the exchange of information on the migratory species;
  • the restoration or maintenance of a network of suitable habitats for the conservation of the species;
  • periodic review of the conservation status of the species;
  • emergency procedures whereby conservation action would be rapidly strengthened.

The Conference of the Parties is the decision-making organ of the Convention. It reviews the implementation of the Convention and can adopt recommendations.

The Convention, and Appendices I and II thereto, can be amended.

Any dispute between parties to the Convention must be settled by negotiation between the parties involved. If the dispute cannot be resolved by negotiation, it may be submitted to arbitration, in particular that of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, whose decision will be binding on the parties.

The Bonn Convention was signed in 1979 and entered into force on 1 November 1983.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 82/461/EEC



OJ L 210 of 19.7.1982


Council Decision 98/145/EC of 12 February 1998 on the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the amendments to Appendices I and II to the Bonn Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals as decided by the fifth meeting of the Conference of the parties to the Convention [Official Journal L 46, 17.2.1998]. This Council Decision contains the list of 21 species to be added to Appendix I to the Convention (endangered species) and 22 species to be added to Appendix II (species conserved through Agreements).

Council Decision 2006/871/EC of 18 July 2005 on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds [Official Journal L 345, 8.12.2006]. In accordance with the Bonn Convention, which provides for the conclusion of regional agreements for species listed in Appendix II, on 1 September 1997 the Community signed an agreement establishing an appropriate international legal framework for the conservation of migratory waterbird species and populations, individuals of which migrate in the Palaearctic and Africa. This Decision approves the Agreement on behalf of the Community. The Agreement, which entered into force on 1 November 1999, covers 235 species of waterbirds dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle and an area of 60 million square kilometres encompassing 116 States (all of Europe and Africa and part of Asia). It provides for a number of coordinated measures to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for the African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds concerned. These measures include the protection and restoration of sites frequented by migratory birds, a ban on non-indigenous waterbird species and cooperation between States in emergency situations. The Agreement also provides for measures, in the form of an action plan, to assist certain priority species, which it identifies. The action plan includes measures relating to the conservation of these species and their habitats (e.g. prohibition, with certain exceptions, of the taking of birds and eggs, prohibition of disturbance and of trade, conservation and rehabilitation of areas), the management of human activity (e.g. hunting, eco-tourism), research and monitoring (e.g. monitoring of populations, studies of migration routes, evolution of habitats), education and information, and the implementation of the action plan (giving priority to the most endangered species).

Last updated: 19.12.2006