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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Siberian Crane MOU

Bonn, 30 July 2014 - The Convention on Migratory Spe­cies (CMS) has long been associated with ef­forts to protect the endangered Siberian Crane. The Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus)  -the Siberian Crane MOU - was the first one to be developed under the auspices of CMS. It was concluded on 1 July 1993 and revised on 1 January 1999.Since then, the Siberian Crane MOU has been of great value to the Convention. This historic memorandum has consequently long served as an ex­ample to many of the other MOUs on the conservation of migratory species concluded to date under CMS.

Originally concentrating on the Western and Central populations of Siberian Cranes, which migrate between breeding grounds in Western Siberia and wintering sites in Iran and India, the scope of the Memorandum was extended in 1998 to cover the larger Eastern Asian population which winters around Poyang Lake, China, and accounts for 98 per cent of the world population.

Today, the Siberian Crane MOU has been signed by all 11 Range States: Afghanistan (2006);Azerbaijan (1998);China (1999); India (1998); Iran, Islamic Republic of (1998); Kazakhstan (1998); Mongolia (2004); Pakistan (1998); Russian Federation (2002); Turkmenistan (1998); and Uzbekistan (1998); as well as  by five Co-operating Organizations: the CMS Secretariat (1998); the International Crane Foundation (1998); the Wild Bird Society of Japan (2000); Wetlands International (2007) and the Cracid and Crane Breeding and Conservation Centre (2007).

Over the years, Signatories, through their regular meetings have continued to monitor progress on the status of this species, have been able to identify the challenges and threats the species faces and have been successful in developing strategies to address them. Detailed Conservation Plans for the Western, Central and Eastern Siberian Crane Flyways with ambitious ac­tivities have been developed and implemented and the joint efforts of all stakeholders have led to important achievements in many different areas of work.Overall aims of the three plans are to reduce mortality in the remaining populations, to protect and manage their habitats and enhance co-operation among the Range States and other concerned agencies. The plans for the Western and Central populations strive also to increase numbers and genetic diversity. The implementation of the Conservation Plans is reviewed regularly at the meetings of the Memorandum’s Signatories and also updated to provide the framework for action until the next meeting takes place.

The successful completion of the UNEP/GEF Siberian Crane Wetland Project in 2009 is one of the main accomplishments of these common efforts. By building capacity for conservation at site, national and flyway levels, it has played a catalytic role in implementing the MOU and in safeguarding a network of 16 critical sites for the Siberian Crane.

An important initiative under the MOU is the Western/Central Asian Site Network for Siberian Cranes and Other Waterbirds (WCASN), which was formally launched on 18 May 2007 in Kazakhstan, in a special signing ceremony held during the Sixth Meeting of the Signatories.

Building on two decades of experience and con­siderable progress achieved within the framework of this MOU, we should now face the upcoming challenges and continue investing energy and resources to assure the future of the Siberian Crane throughout its range.

The 11th Conference of the Parties of CMS will take place in Quito the 4-9 November 2014. A report of activities under the Siberian Crane MOU will be presented as part of a broader document on implementation of CMS instruments. Other relevant avian issues that will be discussed at the COP include an ambitious Programme of Work on migratory birds and flyways, Guidelines to prevent the poisoning of migratory birds, an Action Plan for migratory landbirds in the African-Eurasian region, a global Action Plan for the Saker Falcon and a resolution on illegal killing of migratory birds.

Last updated on 30 July 2014