Eurasian Curlew Breeding Range States Meet in Aberlady, Scotland

Bonn, 23 November 2018 - Following the 2015 adoption of the AEWA International Single Species Action Plan for the Eurasian Curlew at the 6th Meeting of the AEWA Parties, a first meeting of the AEWA Eurasian Curlew International Working Group focusing on the breeding range states of N. a. arquata took place on the 4-6 September 2018 at the Scottish Ornithologists Club in Aberlady, Scotland.

Attended by designated government representatives and national experts from most of the breeding range (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the UK) as well as invited international observer organizations, the meeting opened with an update on the overall status of the population as well as with updates from each country on progress made in implementing the International Action Plan.

Overarching outcomes included the conclusion that Eurasian Curlew are confined to protected sites in some countries (such as Denmark) but present across large areas of agricultural land in many other countries (Netherlands, Sweden) making International Action Plan measures relating to the identification and protection of internationally and national important sites only applicable to certain Range States (for example the UK). In addition, there is a need to better understand migration connectivity of sub-populations and in many countries (such as Norway and Denmark) specific management for the Curlew does not occur but the species is expected to benefit from management targeting other waders. Within the EU, this is in part due to the fact that the Curlew is not an Annex 1 species and so other species are instead prioritized for conservation action.

In addition to continuing national activities, the group received updates on international processes and projects linked to work on the Curlew such as the EU International Multi-Species Action Plan for the Conservation of Breeding Waders in Wet Grassland Habitats in Europe (2018-2028), which also covers the Eurasian Curlew as one of eight species. Furthermore, the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative is undertaking a wide range of monitoring and capacity building work along the entire East-Atlantic Flyway relevant for the Curlew. Participants highlighted the need to link up the various initiatives targeting grassland breeding waders in order to maximize efforts and make the best use of scarce resources - in particular seeking collaborative ways to deliver on action in relation to EU agriculture policy.

Mr. Brown said: “People and funding are critical to the future conservation prospects of the Eurasian Curlew. In recent years scientists, journalists, farmers, conservationists, poets, artists, civil servants, government and NGO staff have all been involved in various aspects of curlew research, conservation, policy formation and awareness raising.

The main task of the meeting was to discuss and agree on a workplan for the next three years, outlining priority international action for the species under the framework of the International Action Plan. Activities added to the workplan include: the development and distribution of Rural Development Programme guidance for the breeding Range States; the collation and exchange of available information on effects of predation on productivity; agreeing on standard guidance for productivity monitoring and committing to undertake productivity monitoring at a sample of sites in order to increase understanding of population and demographic trends across the breeding range; sharing and collating information on ongoing, planned and completed satellite-tracking and colour-ringing of Eurasian Curlew amongst the Range States; and discussing a framework for future delivery of the Action Plan by identifying areas of overlap with other ongoing international processes for the conservation of waders. With regard to adaptive harvest management, actions to define relevant management units (i.e. which birds are hunted in France and where they come from) and to convene a flyway level process for with all relevant Range States were also added to the workplan.

On day two, meeting participants visited the RSPB Airds Moss Nature Reserve & Common Farm in Ayrshire where they had the opportunity to meet the farmer and predator control contractor as well as several RSPB staff involved in implementing curlew-friendly management measures in this upland farming landscape. In the evening participants also had the pleasure of hearing a keynote talk by Mary Colwell on her work to raise the profile of curlews, which included walking through parts of Ireland and the UK to speak to farmers, conservationists, gamekeepers and the public on the cultural significance of curlew. Mary is also behind the launch of International Curlew Day (21 April) and her book, Curlew Moon, was published earlier in 2018.

The next meeting of the Working Group will take place in the same sub-set of the breeding Range States in approximately two years (autumn 2020), resources permitting.

Coordination of the AEWA Eurasian Curlew International Working Group is provided by RSPB and the meeting was hosted by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) with additional support provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

For further information, please contact the International Coordinator at RSPB Mr. Dan Brown or Ms. Nina Mikander at the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat. All meeting documents are available on the AEWA website.



Last updated on 26 November 2018

News item
Numenius arquata
Species group: