Flock of Red Knots in flight RSPB Reserve, Norfolk, England, UK © Guy Edwardes / 2020VISION / naturepl.com
Budapest, 26 September 2022 - AEWA's flagship report presented at the 8th Meeting of the Parties to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA MOP8) in Budapest this week is the "Report on the Conservation Status of Migratory Waterbirds in the Agreement Area".
The report brings together the latest available survey and monitoring data on waterbirds in the African-Eurasian Flyways to provide an overview of the status and trends of waterbird populations protected by AEWA. The report provides the basis for informed international conservation action under AEWA as well as the means to assess the effectiveness of actions taken over time.
"Regular estimates of population size and trends are an absolute prerequisite for the conservation and sustainable use of waterbird populations under AEWA. Without the data and analysis contained in this report, we would not know where to focus our actions and how we are doing in terms of implementing the Agreement and achieving its objectives", says Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AEWA.
The data used to compile the report is based on extensive survey and monitoring work conducted in many of the 119 countries that are AEWA Range States.
The report shows that the number of declining populations is 40% higher than the number of increasing populations. It also shows that 41% of all waterbird populations protected by AEWA are declining in the short term, while 29% are stable and 30% are increasing. In the long term, 43% are declining, 23% are stable and 34% are increasing. The short and long-term trends are used to determine the categorisation and level of protection afforded to AEWA-listed populations, which also determines the conservation and management regime applied to these populations under the Agreement.
"Although knowledge of the status of waterbird populations has improved considerably since the establishment of AEWA, there are still significant gaps, especially in the eastern part of the Agreement areas where there are fewer Contracting Parties," says Mr. Trouvilliez.
According to the report, there is an urgent need to accelerate the recruitment of new Contracting Parties along the West Asian/East African Flyway and to significantly increase support for the implementation of the Agreement through the AEWA Action Plan for Africa, as well as the possible establishment of a similar mechanism for Central and South West Asia.
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) © Szabolcs Nagy/Rubicon
In addition to providing a number of recommended actions based on the latest trends in waterbird populations at the African-Eurasian Flyway level, the CSR also provides an overview of the many threats faced by the waterbird populations covered by AEWA.
Of the 38 different threats reported, hunting and trapping, habitat displacement and modification, invasive alien species, and dams and water management are the threats recorded for most AEWA species. While annual and perennial non-timber crops, hunting and trapping, and fishing and harvesting of aquatic species were identified as having the greatest impacts on AEWA species that are globally threatened or near threatened.
"The CSR is an iterative process that tells you what you need to do and then how well you have done it. It helps AEWA Parties to identify priorities and assess their collective performance in conserving migratory waterbirds in the African-Eurasian Flyways", explains Sergey Dereliev, Head of the Science, Implementation and Compliance Unit at the AEWA Secretariat.
CSR8 provides an important overview of the status of implementation of the AEWA Strategic Plan 2019-2027 and includes valuable information on five of the six target indicators designed to measure the achievement of the plan's overall objective of improving the status of waterbird populations by 2027.
Alarmingly, negative changes are reported for several of the indicators, showing that at flyway level, AEWA's implementation is moving backwards compared to the situation in 2018, when AEWA's last Strategic Plan was adopted.
The report therefore calls on the countries working together under AEWA to strongly strengthen the implementation of the Strategic Plan for 2019 - 2027 in order to reverse the negative changes and to intensify their efforts to achieve the many targets that require attention under each of the plan's objectives.
The RSC recommends several steps to build on and continue the successful work already done under AEWA. For example, in addition to adopting a more systematic approach to the monitoring of migratory waterbirds, particularly in the eastern part of the Agreement area, the report also recommends the development of breeding monitoring programmes for migratory waterbirds in Africa, Central and Southwest Asia and Russia.
Recruiting new parties to the Agreement, intensifying assistance to AEWA parties in both Africa and Central and South-West Asia, filling gaps in the planning and implementation of the AEWA Strategic Plan 2019 - 2027, providing additional guidance to member states on how best to conserve and manage their waterbird populations, and strengthening actions that contribute to the conservation of important waterbird sites and habitats - are also among the priority steps identified in the report.
Filling information gaps on the sustainable use and management of hunted waterbird species (so-called "career species") and continuing the good work done at both species and flyway level under the International Single Species Action Plans were also identified in the report as key actions that countries should undertake.
"Internationally coordinated conservation actions for a number of AEWA-listed species, such as the Lesser White-fronted Goose, Taiga Goose and Northern Bald Ibis, have clearly shown that coordination along flyways can contribute significantly to maintaining and improving the conservation status of species," says Dereliev.
Last updated on 16 December 2022