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Migration, Misguided Culls, Climate, and Book Bargains?

Forests are hot topic at climate conference

Representatives from Nature Canada (BirdLife in Canada) have been meeting with government delegates from around the world to make the case for forest conservation at the 11th Annual United Nations Climate Change Conference that began in Montreal this week.

"Roughly 25 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and other changes in land use," said Mara Kerry, Director of Conservation at Nature Canada. "When trees are cut down for agriculture or industrial development, there is a real impact on the global pool of greenhouse gases."Deforestation and climate change lead to a loss of biodiversity, which degrades the ecosystem benefits nature provides to every living person.

"We all depend on healthy, natural ecosystems to provide us with services that are impossible to duplicate," said Kerry. "Clean water, healthy soil, pest control, regulation of climate and habitat for birds and fisheries are just a few of the ecosystem services that come from nature, without which we would not survive."

The effects of climate change on biodiversity are already being observed from studying the behavior of migratory birds. "Birds are migrating sooner, laying eggs earlier and moving to more northern latitudes," said Kerry. "We’re seeing species in Canada that have never travelled as far north as they are now."

"Projects like the one in Paraguay show that you can mitigate global climate change, alleviate poverty, and conserve biodiversity at the same time." said Mara Kerry of Nature Canada Held in Montreal, Canada, from 28 November to 9 December, the conference will combine the first meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and the eleventh meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the largest intergovernmental climate conference since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997.

Nature Canada and one of its BirdLife International Partners in the Americas, Guyra Paraguay, are hosting an official side event at the conference later today, where they will report on a four-year project completed in 2004 to diversify the local economies of eight communities in Paraguay and encourage sustainable land use practices. The project helped to reduce development pressures and protect critically endangered Interior Atlantic Forest ecosystems.Misguided focus on migratory birds risks diverting effort from effective control of avian influenza, BirdLife warns

BirdLife has again stressed that the evidence that migratory birds are spreading H5NI Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is weak at best, and getting weaker as each outbreak is investigated.

BirdLife voiced its concern at the close of the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (“COP8”, November 20-25), during which an “Avian ‘Flu Early Warning system” was announced.

The proposed system would map and monitor the movements of migratory waterbirds, making the information available especially to developing countries. According to a CMS spokesperson, "the exact workings of the system have yet to be ironed out".BirdLife International agrees that better data, and better integrated data, on bird migrations are badly needed, but primarily for reasons of conservation, not public or veterinary health. BirdLife is concerned that a focus on monitoring wild birds must not distract Governments from taking effective control measures for avian flu. The key steps are to improve bio-security, by keeping wild birds apart from poultry, enhanced monitoring and control of poultry movements and markets, and swift culling of infected flocks. Countries currently free of the disease should consider a ban on imports of domestic poultry and wild birds for the pet trade from affected Back in October, the CMS’s own newly-convened International Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza warned against premature assumptions about the role of migratory wild birds. "We are wasting valuable time pointing fingers at wild birds when we should be focusing on dealing with the root causes of this epidemic spread which are clearly to be found in rural poultry practices, the movement of domestic poultry, and farming methods which crowd huge numbers of animals into small areas where they are much more susceptible to disease, and where the physical conditions provide ideal conditions for a virus like H5N1 to spread and mutate," Task Force observer William Karesh, Director of the Field Veterinary Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said at the time.

COP8 closed with a call from closer collaboration between scientists, conservationists, veterinarians and public health experts, to investigate questions such as how long the virus can survive in wetland environments –and whether infected birds are capable of migration at all. All infected wildfowl found to date have been dead or dying, and Prof Chris Feare, a consultant to the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) has asserted that "avian flu currently seems to be quickly self limiting in wild populations".BirdLife and the Convention on Migratory Species

For many years, BirdLife has sent its own delegations, drawn from around the BirdLife Partnership, to the three-yearly Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to the CMS. BirdLife has always regarded the Bonn Convention as a valuable tool for the conservation of birds, which fits very well with BirdLife’s own objectives. BirdLife’s data sets on globally threatened migratory species and Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are a key source of reference.

BirdLife co-operates closely with the Convention, and has sought to take an increasing role in its work. At the global level, BirdLife has obtained seats on the Standing Committee, which runs the business of the Convention between COPs, and the Scientific Council, which advises the Convention on technical matters. Our work in these areas continues to expand, helped by our excellent working relationship with the Secretariat in Bonn.

These notes were taken from an article by John O’Sullivan, International Treaties Adviser with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), and is global co-ordinator of BirdLife’s work on the Bonn Convention.Vietnam culls "a distraction" from priority bird flu measures

The UN's Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO) has warned against culls of wild birds in the cities of countries affected by avian influenza, saying this could distract attention from the campaign to contain the disease among poultry.

The warning followed reports that wild birds were being killed in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The BirdLife in Indochina Programme reports that similar culls are being attempted in the cities of Da Nang and Hue. Feral Pigeons are the primary target, but Pond Herons and egrets passing through the city have reportedly also been killed, and are among the proposed targets of future culling attempts.

Two of the cities have hired hunters to shoot wild birds, but in Ho Chi Minh City the poison Dipterex is being used. Poisoning is a dangerously indiscriminate technique, which presents a threat to human health, and the Ho Chi Minh City authorities have warned residents not to eat any dead pigeons they find.An official in Vietnam's Department of Animal Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development told the BirdLife in Indochina Programme that the three cities have acted unilaterally, and that the Vietnamese Government has not authorised or recommended these culls.

BirdLife strongly opposes any suggestion that wild birds should be culled in an attempt to control the spread of avian influenza – on the grounds of practicality and effectiveness, as well as conservation

BirdLife International strongly opposes any suggestion that wild birds should be culled in an attempt to control the spread of avian influenza – on the grounds of practicality and effectiveness, as well as conservation. Any such attempts could spread the virus more widely, as survivors disperse to new places, and healthy birds become stressed and more prone to infection.

The FAO and its sister organisation the World Health Organisation (WHO) and OIE (the World Organisation for Animal Health) have jointly advised that control of avian influenza in wild birds by culling is not feasible, and should not be attempted.Juan Lubroth, FAO senior officer responsible for infectious animal diseases, commented: "This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza. There are other, much more important measures to be considered that deserve priority attention." Mr Luboth said that fighting the disease in poultry must remain the main focus of attention. "Controlling the virus in poultry is the most effective way by which the likelihood of the bird flu virus acquiring human-to-human transmissibility can be reduced."

FAO, along with the OIE and the WHO, recommend a series of measures to fight avian influenza outbreaks. These include:

* Improving veterinary services, emergency preparedness plans and control campaigns including culling of infected animals, vaccination and compensation for farmers
* Strengthening early detection and rapid response systems for animal and human influenza and building and strengthening laboratory capacity
* Support and training for the investigation of animal and human cases and clusters, and planning and testing rapid containment activities Flock to BirdLife book bargains

Many of BirdLife International's flagship publications are currently on offer in the NHBS online sale.

Titles include the comprehensive and invaluable 2-volume Important Bird Areas in Europe set - selling for less than half its original price. Updated and extended, this book provides comprehensive coverage of the 3,619 most important sites for bird conservation in 51 European countries. Key species, habitats and conservation issues are discussed for every site, with thumbnail location maps.

"A working document, to be used by conservationists on a local, national and international level to save these special places from destruction." said BBC Wildlife on IBAs in Europe

Other titles include Endemic Bird Areas of the World, Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands, Key Areas for Threatened Birds in the Neotropics and Raptor Watch, a guide to 388 hotspots where these birds can be seen in their thousands. More than 15 different titles can be found in the sale on the NHBS.com web site which offers totally secure online shopping.

The flagship Threatened Birds of the World, published by Lynx Edicions, is also available at half price from the Lynx web site.

4th July 2014