4 curlews in flight across a deep blue-purple sky, with snow-capped mountains in the far distance


Conserving migratory birds across the world through sharing expertise

RSPB and the BirdLife International Global Flyways Programme

Looking up at the underside of a white-rumped vulture in flight in India, against a bright, clear blue sky

The RSPB leads the policy work of the BirdLife International Global Flyways Programme, including providing the BirdLife representative for the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). This is the only global animal conservation treaty (apart from CITES that focusses on trade).


We also lead on other international processes relevant to migratory bird conservation such as the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) of the Arctic Council.

The Flyway approach

 View looking up at a flock of knots and bar-tailed godwits in flight in front of a clear, light blue sky

The flyway approach recognizes that to conserve migratory birds that use many countries during their annual cycle, concerted, cooperative international action is needed involving every conservation skill, from science and monitoring, site and species management on the ground, public education, to influencing government action, including through international agreements. Flyway conservation ensures methods demonstrated to work locally and nationally, including by the BirdLife Partnership, are implemented internationally.


Priorities are listed in the sections below.

End illegal killing

Blackcap stuck upside down, caught in illegal mist net

The RSPB leads work for BirdLife supporting governments to eradicate illegal killing, taking and trade of birds.


We are especially involved with an intergovernmental task force to prevent these illegal practices in the Mediterranean and Europe. A similar group covers the East Asian Australasian Flyway. Another is being formed for West Asia.

Energy Infrastructure

3 white wind turbines on green hills at Slieve Rushden under a grey cloudy sky

The RSPB was instrumental in the establishment of the Convention on Migratory Species Energy Task Force which is coordinated by BirdLife International. It works with governments, investors, the energy industry and other stakeholders, to minimise the destructive impact of energy infrastructure, such as powerlines and wind farms, on migratory birds around the world.

Coastal Waterbirds

Adult female spoon billed sandpiper, in summer plumage,  on shining wet pebbles in right sunlight, facing side on to the camera

Coastal waterbirds are among the most threatened migratory birds globally. The RSPB leads BirdLife's international work to encourage governments to conserve coastal wetlands. In the Yellow Sea, home to the most important coastal wetland sites in the world, unsustainable development has caused an extinction crisis, especially for critically endangered spoon-billed sandpipers. The RSPB helped avert plans to destroy these wetlands, sites, supporting China and South Korea to protect them as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Land use in Africa

Illustrated mural depicting a large variety of bird species, and an elephant, all living together in a sunny, lush environment

RSPB led work to establish the CMS African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan (AEMLAP) which works with governments of the African-Eurasian flyway to conserve all non-marine migratory birds not covered by AEWA (for waterbirds) and the Raptors MoU.


The focus is on making sure land use in Africa is sustainable, through collaboration with the likes of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the Pan African Great Green Wall Initiative


Image © Birdfair 2011

Legal hunting

Large flock of pink-footed geese grazing on the deep green grass of a rough pasture

As well as work to eliminate illegal killing of birds, RSPB works to ensure any legal hunting, or killing of migratory birds in conflict with humans, doesn’t drive population declines. Hence, we engage with the European Goose Management Platform, the first European intergovernmental attempt to manage harvest of particular species, similar European Commission work for Turtle Dove, and work to ban the use of lead ammunition to prevent bird poisoning.