A Single Earth: Migratory Animals Connect the Planet
Migratory animals move across space and time; with their regular and predictable movements, they connect continents, countries, sites and habitats. Connectivity is the keyword of CMS, the only global legal instrument devoted to the conservation of migratory animals. Understanding connectivity allows us to understand what sites and habitats animals need during their migratory journeys and annual cycle. Migration can only be accomplished when animals are able to access the different sites and habitats they are adapted to rely upon along their pathways, from the breeding quarters, through the passage and staging areas, to the non-breeding sites.
Connectivity is key for the identification and planning of the spatial structure of networks or protected areas and other sites managed for conservation purposes, as well as when assessing the conservation value of networks of protected areas for the widest range of taxa of migratory animals.
Since accomplishing migration is key for the survival of migratory species, connectivity between sites and countries, as mediated by migratory animals, also implies sharing of responsibilities for their conservation and survival. Migratory movements of individual animals within migratory pathways commonly implies the presence of these individuals in different countries (continents) during the different phases of their journeys.
In order to discuss scientific and applied aspects related to connectivity, based on an initiative by the CMS Scientific Council Chair Fernando Spina and thanks to the support offered by the Veneto Po Delta Regional Park, a first workshop was held in September 2015 in Albarella (Rovigo, Italy). Following this very positive experience already reported to the CMS Scientific Council, and with the aim of drafting a proposal for a specific resolution on connectivity for the forthcoming CMS COP12, a second workshop was again hosted by the Po Delta Park in Rosolina between 3 and 6 May. Members of the CMS Secretariat and Family, COP-appointed councillors and experts on connectivity across the widest possible range of taxa met as a small group (fewer than 15 people) to offer their experiences in drafting a proposal for a resolution and a decision on connectivity which is being considered at the second meeting of the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council for submission to COP12. The resolution aims at flagging CMS as the “connectivity Convention”, requesting the Secretariat, the Scientific Council and Parties to give special attention to connectivity-related aspects and problems when defining priorities within conservation strategies and when building contacts, cooperation and shared efforts across countries and continents for the long-term survival of migratory animals.