AEWA Implementation Review Process (IRP) – First Case Closed

Bonn, 14 July 2020 – For the first time a case under the AEWA Implementation Review Process (IRP) has been closed following the announcement that the United Kingdom has removed the Greenland White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons flavirostris) from the list of huntable species.

Not satisfied that the incomplete statutory protection from hunting throughout the United Kingdom was in conformity with the terms of the AEWA Treaty, the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Welsh Ornithological Society in June 2017 submitted information for a possible case for consideration under the IRP. 

The Greenland White-fronted Goose is listed as Category 2* Column A in Table 1 of Annex 3 of AEWA.  This means that its population is between c 10,000 and c 25,000 individuals and that hunting may continue on a sustainable use basis conducted within the framework of special provisions of an international species action plan, implementing the principles of adaptive harvest management.  The International Single Species Action Plan (adopted at the 5th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to AEWA in 2012) sets out the urgent case to reduce adult mortality and prescribes introducing and/or maintaining protection from hunting throughout the year whilst the conservation status of the population remains at its current unfavourable level.  However, under the provisions of the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act, the Greenland White-fronted Goose remained a huntable species.  The submitters claimed that failure to provide legal protection from hunting for these geese perpetuated a material risk for the maintenance of the population in England and Wales – contrary to a key objective of the Action Plan.

After examining further information provided by the Government of the UK, the AEWA Standing Committee recommended a course of action to ensure that the UK complied with the provisions of AEWA arising from the listing of the Greenland White-fronted Goose in Table 1. The UK has now implemented its decision announced in 2018 to remove the Greenland White-fronted Goose from the list of huntable species in England and Wales, thus establishing complete protection from hunting across the UK.

“I am delighted that the AEWA Standing Committee has been able to resolve this case under the IRP swiftly and amicably without the need for a mission visit.  I would like to thank those organizations that brought the case to our attention and commend the authorities in the United Kingdom for their cooperation and prompt action. I hope that other outstanding cases can be resolved in similar fashion.”

Humbulani Mafumo (South Africa), Vice-Chair, AEWA Standing Committee

The IRP was established by the Parties to the Agreement at their 4th Meeting (MOP4) in September 2008 through Resolution 4.6, which provides for the AEWA Standing Committee to oversee the process.  The IRP is intended to examine issues having - or potentially having - adverse effects on either migratory waterbirds or on their sites and habitats as a result of human activities.

The Greenland sub-species of the Greater White-fronted Goose has a declining population of under 19,000 individuals according to the 7th edition of the AEWA Conservation Status Report. It breeds in western Greenland and migrates via Iceland to overwinter at a small number of traditional sites in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

Last updated on 22 March 2021

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