Southern South American Grassland Birds

The MOU on the Conservation of Southern South American Migratory Grassland Bird Species and Their Habitats was concluded under the auspices of CMS and became effective on 26 August 2007. Under the “umbrella“ of the Convention on Migratory Species, the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay agreed to work together towards better conservation of migratory species of grassland birds of Southern South America and developed the MOU text. Brazil too, although not a Party to CMS, has signed the MOU.

Species covered by the MOU include the Eskimo (or Northern) Curlew (Numenius borealis), the Strange-tailed Tyrant (Alectrurus risora), the Cock-tailed Tyrant (Alectrurus tricolor), the Chestnut seedeater (Sporophila cinnamomea), the Rufous-rumped seedeater (Sporophila hypochroma), the Marsh seedeater (Sporophila palustris), the Entre Rios seedeater (Sporophila zelichi), and the Saffron-cowled Blackbird (Agelaius (Xanthopsar) flavus) and these have all been included on Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species. The Dark-throated Seedeater (Sporophila ruficollis), Dinelli‘s Doradito (Pseudocolopteryx dinellianus) and the Bearded Tachuri (Polystictus pectoralis pectoralis) have been included on Appendix II of CMS.

Threats and challenges

The grasslands of south-eastern South America, comprising one of the most extensive grassland ecosystems in the Neo-tropics, have suffered negative impacts from the development of the livestock industry, arable agriculture and forestry. The grasslands have a rich avifauna that includes 22 globally threatened and near-threatened species, and many other species have suffered local population extinctions and range reductions. In addition to habitat loss and fragmentation, grassland birds in these ecosystems are threatened by improper use of agrochemicals, unfavourable fire management regimes, pollution and illegal capture and hunting.

Action Plan

During the First Meeting of Signatories in Asunción, Paraguay, 15 December 2010, the Signatories adopted an Action Plan which was added as an Annex to the MOU. The Action Plan focuses on protecting and managing habitats for the migratory grassland birds by identifying new protected areas, providing financial incentives to local cattle ranchers, coordinating monitoring and research of grassland biodiversity among countries, conducting threat assessments, raising awareness and enhancing international cooperation towards developing a legal framework for the preservation of grasslands. In addition, it recommends actions to be taken outside of protected areas to help conserve habitat on private land.

Activities under the MOU

Monitoring and research of grassland biodiversity are now being coordinated among the countries to collect data on distribution, population counts, abundance and the conservation status of birds, frogs, butterflies and other insects. In addition, an international bird ringing programme is being implemented, where small, individually numbered tags are attached to the birds’ legs to track their movements and identify threats along their flyways. Studies are being conducted to determine the impact of chemicals and fertilizers on bird populations. In addition, training courses on best practices and tailored conservation are being considered to target educators, journalists, producers and rural associations.


Titresort descending Statut Status date CMS Party number Region
Argentina MOU Signatory 2007 039 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Bolivia MOU Signatory 2009 081 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Brazil MOU Signatory 2007 122 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Paraguay MOU Signatory 2007 056 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Uruguay MOU Signatory 2007 031 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Southern South American Migratory Grassland Bird Species and their Habitats
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 15 States and 1 Co-operating Organization (for details please scroll to 'other' and 'MoU Signatory')
In effectImmediately following signature by three states
Actually in effect26 August 2007
Website URL
OtherSigned also by Co-operating Organizations: CMS Secretariat on 26 August 2007

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