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Landmark UN Report on Migratory Species Reveal Extent of Extinction Threat

The report emphasizes the importance of mapping and safeguarding critical locations essential for breeding, feeding, and stopovers.

Image Courtesy: Garten, Pixabay

The inaugural ceremony of the State of the World's Migratory Species report, commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) for the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), underscored that the global significance of migratory species across diverse ecosystems, including oceans, land, and skies. The report highlights alarming trends, revealing that nearly half of the migratory species are experiencing population declines, with one in five facing imminent extinction due to human activities.

The primary threats to migratory species identified in the report are overexploitation and habitat loss caused by human actions. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation affect three-quarters of CMS-listed species, while seven out of ten are impacted by overexploitation. Pollution, climate change, and invasive species further compound these challenges.

Urgent and coordinated efforts are advocated to protect, connect, and restore habitats, mitigate overexploitation, reduce environmental pollution, address climate change, and extend conservation efforts to all species in need. The report emphasizes the importance of mapping and safeguarding critical locations essential for breeding, feeding, and stopovers. Despite the fact that nearly 10,000 Key Biodiversity Areas being vital for migratory species, more than half are not designated as protected areas, and 58% of monitored sites are under threat due to human activities.

Image Courtesy: UN Report on Migratory Species

According to the IUCN Red List, one in five CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction and many are undergoing population declines. Extinction risk is rising for CMS-listed species, with considerably more species deteriorating than improving between 1988 and 2020. Across the wider group of all migratory species, levels of extinction risk are also escalating. This report further indicates there are at least 399 globally threatened or Near Threatened migratory species that are not yet benefitting from the international protection afforded by the Convention.

Addressing climate change is a priority; hence, it is highlighted here, urging nations to fulfil international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon stocks in vegetation and soils. The report stresses the need to future-proof vital sites against climate change effects and implement dynamic management measures to adapt to shifting migration patterns.

Efforts to mitigate the impacts of renewable energy infrastructure expansion on migratory species are also emphasized. The report underscores the essential role of migratory species in maintaining healthy ecosystems, with billions of animals undertaking remarkable journeys across thousands of miles each year, linking different parts of the world.

The State of the World's Migratory Species report offers a comprehensive overview of the conservation status, trends, and key pressures facing migratory species. It highlights ongoing conservation efforts and emphasizes the urgent need for coordinated action to safeguard these vital components of global biodiversity. Through their extraordinary journeys, migratory species offer invaluable insights into the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the profound changes affecting our planet.

Access the complete report here.


Rituraj Phukan is an environmental writer, adventurer & naturalist based out of Assam. He serves as the National Coordinator for Biodiversity, The Climate Project Foundation, and is a member of the IUCN. 

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