25 Years of AEWA – Statement by Dr Gerard C. Boere, Honorary Patron and Founding Father of AEWA

Congratulations to all the people involved in AEWA on the 25th anniversary of the Agreement. It is excellent that we have come this far, and it is good to see detailed activities undertaken at the practical level, which we believed from the start could be provided by a conservation and management tool such as AEWA. 

Developing a flyway conservation plan was not an entirely new concept when work on AEWA started in the late eighties. For a long time, bird conservationists believed that the protection and management of birds should be implemented across the entire range: the breeding, stopover and wintering sites. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan was a good example. 

The Bonn Convention (1979) provided the worldwide legal framework for species conservation beyond national borders.  AEWA, concluded under CMS, is an effective instrument facilitating extensive international cooperation to combat an increasing number of threats to waterbirds.  It provides unique combined input from species experts and those with a policy background and so is not just another ‘diplomatic bubble’. 

In our changing world, AEWA should be prepared to absorb new developments and to be flexible in its work programme and priorities. Research into bird migration has improved substantially using a range of modern technical devices and produces new information with conservation policy implications.  At the same time classical studies with ringed and colour-ringed birds are still important as recently shown for the Bewick Swan, supported by data from the International Waterbird Census (IWC). Resting and wintering areas of the Bewick Swan have moved over hundreds of kilometres from west to east in Europe during the last 50 years. I am convinced that analyzing more data available in the Waterbird Census Database will provide similar information for more species e.g. the White-fronted Goose, further illustrating the great importance of long-term data of the IWC.  AEWA has the possibility and task of ‘translating’ such changes into conservation and management policy for the countries involved. These changes (in fact moves, in the case of the Bewick Swan) shift the ‘responsibility’ for a wintering area to a large extent from one country to another. There may be similar examples of a similar nature in the near future.

Just above my working place at home in Gorssel is my copy of the book on the history of AEWA with all the signatures and nice words of the AEWA ‘family’ present in 2010 in The Hague to celebrate 15 years of AEWA.  It is great to read the names and browse through it and difficult to believe that 10 years have passed. I am looking forward to the next 10 years and follow the good work undertaken by AEWA!        

Gerard C. Boere              

Last updated on 16 June 2020