State of the World's Migratory Species Report Highlights the Need to Increase Protection Coverage of Key Biodiversity Areas.
12th February 2024
Half (51%) of Key Biodiversity Areas identified as important for CMS-listed migratory animals do not have protected status, and 58% of the monitored sites recognized as being important for CMS-listed species are experiencing unsustainable levels of human-caused pressure.
The recently published "State of the World’s Migratory Species" report provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of the conservation status, threats, and conservation measures for migratory species, focusing on those listed in the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Appendices. The report highlights the deteriorating conservation status of many CMS-listed species: “one in five CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction and 44% have a decreasing population trend”. In response, the report emphasizes the need for urgent and coordinated efforts to protect, connect, and restore habitats, tackle overexploitation, reduce environmental pollution, address climate change, and ensure the protection of migratory species.
Likewise, the document highlights the need to do more to conserve Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and other critical habitats, as nearly 10,000 (61%) of the world’s Key Biodiversity Areas are important for CMS-listed migratory species, but more than half (by area) are not covered by protected or conserved areas. This indicates clear gaps and the necessity for further action. Furthermore, 58% of the monitored sites recognized as being significant for CMS-listed species are experiencing unsustainable levels of human-caused pressure. In this scenario, the report recommends prioritizing those sites that are important for biodiversity to ensure successful outcomes for nature.
The report also recommends enhancing the management effectiveness of protected and conserved areas, ensuring sufficient resources are put into the management of these areas to maximize the benefits for biodiversity. To ensure the management needs of migratory species are considered, key priorities for migratory species should be integrated into management plans for these areas.
Establishing, supporting, and expanding regular monitoring of important sites for migratory species, and of populations of migratory species at these sites, following standardized protocols is also essential to identify the threats taking place and their impacts on species and ecosystems. These efforts are needed to prioritize conservation actions, evaluate the effectiveness of management interventions, and help pinpoint any drivers of population change in CMS-listed species.
Though there is still a long way to go to effectively preserve these important sites for CMS-listed species, but there have been some positive efforts with significant results. The recognition that sites are globally significant for migratory species through the KBA assessments is a first step which can then be used to guide were conservation occurs.
By overlapping boundary data for KBAs from the World Database of KBAs (WDKBA), protected areas from the World Database on Protected Areas, and OECMs from the World Database on OECMs, up to the end of 2022, it was observed that “globally, nearly half (49%) of the area of KBAs triggered by CMS-listed migratory species was covered by protected and conserved areas”. Currently, Europe has the highest percentage of KBAs triggered by CMS-listed species covered by protected and conserved areas (63%), and Asia has the lowest (25%). However, there is a joint global effort to not only to increase the number of KBAs recognized as such, but also the number of important biodiversity areas that are effectively preserved, monitored, and conserved.
 UNEP-WCMC, 2024. State of the World’s Migratory Species. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, United Kingdom. P. 9.
 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are “sites that contribute to the global persistence of biodiversity” identified based on a set of 11 global criteria including threatened, irreplaceable, and restricted biodiversity, ecological integrity, and biological processes.
 UNEP-WCMC, 2024. State of the World’s Migratory Species. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, United Kingdom. P. 46.