New Report Lays Out Conservation Status of Migratory Waterbirds

Monitoring helps designate protected areas to improve conservation

Bonn, 12 November 2015 - The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) has presented the 6th Edition of the Conservation Status of Migratory Waterbirds in the Agreement Area. It is part of a series of international reviews on the implementation of the AEWA Action Plan and was submitted to the 6th Meeting of the Parties to AEWA. The report was produced by Wetlands International.

According to the report, the status of most AEWA populations (64 per cent) has not deteriorated over the last 20 years with 39 per cent stable or fluctuating and 25 per cent increasing. In comparison, merely 36 per cent of the 376 populations with trend information are declining.

According to the report, many waterbird populations continue to deteriorate, but less rapidly than in the past. Populations of shoebills, penguins, cranes and grebes have declined by more than 50 per cent. However, some populations of ducks, geese, swans and sandpipers have suffered the most serious population declines. This trend is particularly high in areas with fewer member states to AEWA where knowledge of the status of waterbirds and key sites remains very poor.

African Penguins © Chris Fallows Shoebill © Mathias Putze

Monitoring of migratory waterbirds has improved over the last three years leading to a higher number of bird populations being assessed. Their number has increased by 75 per cent from 102 to 180 populations representing one third of all populations listed under AEWA. However, 28 per cent of the AEWA populations have not been assessed and 38 per cent of the trends are based on poor estimates.

Knowledge gaps remain in West Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of Southern Africa and the Atlantic Coast. However, knowledge about the conservation status has improved substantially along the East Atlantic Flyway thanks to the joint efforts by the Conserving Migratory Birds in West Africa project and the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative.

More data about waterbird populations helped designate key sites leading to a better conservation status of waterbirds in Europe. Poor knowledge about migratory waterbird populations across West Asia and Central Africa has prevented conservation actions based on collected data.

Key recommendations:

The Report suggests that more countries joining AEWA would trigger conservation and tangibly improve the conservation status of migratory waterbird populations. More action from more countries especially along the West Asian-East African Flyway would be required to address the many threats migratory waterbirds face. Key sites need to be protected and managed to facilitate concerted conservation measures to ensure that all AEWA populations are maintained or restored to a favourable conservation status. International Single Species Action Plans should be developed for the most threatened species. Finally, where they are used, bird populations must be used sustainably.

Developing monitoring guidelines for populations listed on Table 1 of the AEWA Action Plan, which includes all AEWA populations, would support countries in collecting compatible data for international assessments.

The Meeting of the Parties is being invited to note the 6th edition of the Reportand take its conclusions and recommendations into account in the decision-making process.

Last updated on 12 November 2015

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