Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

Conservation, Biodiversity and International Law

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Alexander Gillespie

This important and timely book provides a rigorous overview of the defining issues presently facing conservation at international level. The author provides detailed coverage of topics ranging from the classification of species right through to access and benefit sharing, drawing on his personal experience at intergovernmental level. Each question is examined through the prism of dozens of treaties and hundreds of decisions and resolutions of the key multilateral regimes, and the law in each area is supplemented by the necessary considerations of science, politics and philosophy – providing much-needed context for the reader.

Chapter 4: Classifications

Alexander Gillespie

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, public international law


INTRODUCTION The purpose of this chapter is to display the different ways that endangered species are classified in international conservation law. In some instances, the entire genus is subject to the same conservation measure. In other, more common, approaches, the species within a genus are divided into categories which reflect different levels of conservation obligations. Typically, the strictness of conservation obligation applies in descending order, to Appendix I, II or III species. Given that such legal definitions about the status of species can have so many implications, the second part of this chapter focuses on the processes for adding to or amending classifications. 2. PROTECTED SPECIES In regimes with a restricted species ambit, as with the arrangements for gorillas,1 polar bears,2 or Vicuna,3 there is no attached annex listing the protected species because the topic is obvious. In other regimes where the range of species within a genus is greater, as with the Bats Agreement, a single Appendix has been created which is regularly updated to include new species with an unfavourable conservation status.4 This approach follows a long lineage. For example, with the 1902 Birds Agreement, birds which were ‘useful to agriculture, particularly the insect-eaters’ were identified and listed on a specific list.5 These birds were to be ‘protected by a prohibition forbidding them to be killed in any way whatsoever, as well as the destruction of their nests, eggs and broods’ for a given period each year. In addition, it was forbidden to import the...

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