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Joined-up Conservation!

International agreement links flyways

A new resolution has been agreed which recognises the importance of promoting international cooperation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats. The resolution was passed today (3 November 2008) in South Korea at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

“Waterbird populations around the world are continuing to decline as a result of the loss and degradation of wetland habitats and their unsustainable exploitation”, said BirdLife’s Head of Conservation, Richard Grimmett. “This resolution recognises the crucial fact that conserving the world’s waterbirds is an international challenge. Only by working together along flyways can we effectively conserve our precious migratory birds”.

The theme of the International conference is ‘Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People’, reflects the importance of wetland habitats to people. During the last eight days, around 2,000 representatives from 165 countries, international bodies and non-governmental organisations have gathered to advance wetland conservation.Besides shorebirds, many waterbirds in other global flyways are also at great risk including Crowned Cormorant Phalacrocorax coronatus, Vulnerable Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula, Damara Tern Sterna balaenarum and Endangered Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis in the African Eurasian Flyways and Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps and Vulerable Andean Flamingo Phoenicoparrus andinus in the American flyways.

“The Ramsar Resolution on Flyways is really significant. No country can act alone to protect migratory waterbirds. If we don’t collaborate internationally we will push more and more migratory waterbirds to the brink of extinction. We must protect their habitats, especially tidal flats, otherwise species like Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus and Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris are doomed in the East Asian - Australasian Flyway.’’ said Alison Russell-French, President of Birds Australia (BirdLife in Australia).

“The Ramsar Resolution reaffirms that flyway approaches are a vital international cooperation mechanism to achieve conservation for migratory waterbirds and their inland and coastal habitats through local, national and international action”, said Wetlands International’s Flyway Programme Manager, Taej Mundkur.“The Resolution calls for more reporting on the state of the world’s waterbirds to all biodiversity Conventions. Furthermore, it recognises the value of the International Waterbird Census which is the largest global volunteer-based annual waterbird monitoring programme in flyway conservation work”, said Wetlands International’s Biodiversity Programme Manager, Ward Hagemeijer.

The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise-use of wetlands and their resources. It has become one of the most important global mechanisms for BirdLife Partners in their national work to conserve wetland for birds, biodiversity and people.

Representatives at the conference used the agreement to encourage Contracting Parties to support and participate in international initiatives, plans and programmes for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats, and urge them to identify and designate important wetlands on migratory flyways as Ramsar sites and improve their management.One particular project that was celebrated by the resolution is the Wings Over Wetlands project, which is fostering international collaboration along the African-Eurasian flyways, improving availability of waterbird information, building capacity and demonstrating best practice in the conservation and wise-use of wetlands. Wings Over Wetlands is a joint effort between Wetlands International, BirdLife International, the Global Environment Facility through the United Nations Environment Programme, the Secretariat of the AEWA, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, the United Nations Office for Project Services and a range of donors and local partners along the African-Eurasian Flyways.

“It’s fantastic that the new Ramsar resolution recognises the innovative approach of the Wings Over Wetlands project in joining-up efforts to conserve migratory waterbirds across Africa and Eurasia”, said Dr Vicky Jones (BirdLife’s Global Flyways Officer).

4th July 2014