Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Bern Convention

Illegal Killing of Birds

© Hüseyin Yorganci The issue of illegal killing, trapping and trading of birds, particularly in Mediterranean Parties has been regularly on the Agenda of the meetings of the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention in the past twenty years. (photo © Hüseyin Yorganci)

At its 30th meeting, in December 2010, the Standing Committee concluded that illegal killing of birds was still carried out, and in some Contracting Parties it was a growing phenomenon; it realised that the implementation of national legislation was often weak; that the issue also involved other transversal aspects like the transit of the killed and captured birds through third countries, the difficulty to identify the illegally killed species; the capture of endangered species; the need for countries to co-operate and to work with nature conservation NGOs; the need for proper enforcement with appropriate penalties at all levels.

Expressing its deep concern on the extent and negative trends of illegal killing, trapping and trading of birds in the European continent, the Bern Convention promoted the organisation of the first "European Conference on illegal killing of birds", held in Larnaca, Cyprus, on 6-8 July 2011.

The Conference delivered the “Larnaca Declaration”, and a draft Recommendation which the Standing Committee adopted at its 31st meeting in 2011 under the reference: Recommendation No. 155 (2011) on the illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds.

The key message of the Larnaca conference was “Zero tolerance toward illegal killing of birds”, and the event had the merit to set a pan-European vision to tackle the issue at stake.

The Standing Committee decided to organise a Second Conference, in two years’ time, to monitor progress of Parties towards the eradication of illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds..

The 2nd Conference on Illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds took place in Tunis on 29-30 May 2013 and was foreseen in the framework of the Bern Convention/CMS Week on the Conservation of Birds.

The Conference achieved to make a step forward in addressing these matters, moving from the vision set in Larnaca to the concrete implementation until 2020. In fact, after examining A detailed assessment report produced by BirdLife International on behalf of the Convention, participants identified both areas where progress was clear and evident, as well as issues where the progress is still low. This is particularly the case for instance for enforcement of legislation, and the awareness and education aspects, both dealing with prevention and which should therefore be seen as key elements of the eradication process. 

Three working groups met during the Conference for building on these conclusions and preparing the so-called “Tunis Action Plan for the eradication of illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds, 2013-2020”, finally adopted by the Standing Committee at its 33rd session.

The concrete implementation of the Tunis Action Plan is now the responsibility of the Parties, but receives the support and contribution of other Multilateral Environmental Agreements, the European Union, INTERPOL, BirdLife International and the FACE. The progress in the eradication progress is monitored by the Bern Convention’s Group of Experts on the Conservation of birds, as well as by the restricted Select Group of Experts, made up of Special National Focal Point for illegal killing of birds.

1st Meeting of the Select Group of experts on Illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds, 19 May 2014, Strasbourg

2nd Conference on Illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds, Tunis, 29-30 May 2013

1st Conference on Illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds, Larnaca, Cyprus, 6-8 July 2011

Social, Educational and Cultural aspects
Human dimensions as a tool for bird conservation. Report 2011 - T-PVS/Inf(2011)12E

Other Related Publications
IUCN- WCC-2012-RES-029-EN: Combating the illegal or unsustainable capture, trade or killing of migratory birds in the Mediterranean

CMS Statement to the Conference on illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds

Protecting birds from power lines (Nature and environment series No. 140, 2005)

Effects of wind farms on birds (Nature and environment, No. 139, 2004)

Useful links
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