The WetCap project countriesBonn/
Cambridge/ Madrid/ Gland, 23 March 2009
- A new
3-year project on “Strengthening waterbird and wetland
conservation capacities in North Africa (WetCap)”
is embarking on its first year of implementation as of this
month. Within the framework of this project capacity building
activities will take place in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria,
Egypt and Mauritania.

The WetCap project is linked to the ongoing
UNEP-GEF African-Eurasian Flyway Project, also known as
“Wings over Wetlands (WOW)”. It will be implemented
under the umbrella of the UNEP Agreement on the Conservation
of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), in cooperation
with its project partners BirdLife International, SEO/BirdLife
(Spanish BirdLife partner), Wetlands International and the
Ramsar Convention.

“This unique project perfectly complements
the Wings over Wetlands Project by implementing its objectives
in North Africa, a region which has not been in the focus
of the WOW project so far. Moreover it sets a first positive
example of how the outcomes of the WOW project can be used
beyond the implementation phase of the WOW project itself,
thus ensuring its longevity” says Bert Lenten, Executive
Secretary of AEWA.

Sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International
Development Cooperation (AECID), the WetCap project integrates
nature conservation efforts into the context of development
cooperation, thus benefitting both people and nature. “The
Strait of Gibraltar is a bottleneck for bird migration between
Europe and Africa” says Juan Criado, Head of the International
Unit of SEO/BirdLife. “This is why the cooperation
between Spanish and Moroccan conservationists is very close.
One of our common projects in the past has been the establishment
of a wetland centre of expertise in Rabat. The WetCap project
will profit from the centre and at the same time strengthen
its position as a centre for knowledge and training for
local conservation professionals. It is a real win-win situation”.

Through a series of regional and national
workshops specifically tailored to the needs and requirements
of the region, the WetCap project will provide targeted
training of trainers and of conservation professionals from
the five countries and thus improve the conservation status
and management of waterbirds at local key wetland sites.

Dr. Jonathan Barnard, Senior Programme
Manager at BirdLife International says: ”Waterbird
conservation work is often hampered by a lack of data on
population sizes, the movements of the birds or the sites
used by them. In the framework of one of the workshops organized
under WetCap, conservation professionals will be made familiar
with the Critical Site Network Tool, a newly developed flyway-level
information portal for the whole AEWA region developed under
the WOW project scheduled to be launched in October this
year.” This regional workshop, which will enable participants
to review the existing data for their region, will be followed
up by targeted gap-filling surveys and monitoring field
missions in all five countries during the second and third
years of the WetCap project.

Ward Hagemeijer, Head of the Biodiversity
and Ecological Networks Programme of Wetlands International:
“We are happy to see that both the Training of Trainers
programme and the Critical Site Network Tool, two key tools
developed for capacity building and information sharing
with the coordination of Wetlands International under the
WOW project, are now used in a new project and offer an
opportunity to test the transferability of these tools”.

Another important component of the WetCap
project foresees the allocation of small grants to local
waterbird and wetland conservation projects in the five
project countries.

Within the framework of the AEWA Agreement,
the WetCap project responds to the African Initiative for
waterbird conservation in Africa established by government
representatives from 80 countries attending the fourth Meeting
of the Parties to AEWA in Antananarivo, Madagascar, September
2008. AEWA provides the basis for international cooperation
on the conservation of 255 species of migratory waterbirds
and their habitats in Africa, Europe and parts of Asia and
Canada; the African Initiative will help to particularly
strengthen cooperation and mobilize resources for the conservation
of migratory waterbirds in Africa.

The WetCap project also responds to the Ramsar Convention’s
Resolution X.22 on flyways adopted at the 10th Conference
of the Parties in 2008 on “Promoting international
cooperation for the conservation of waterbird flyways”.

Notes to Editors


African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird
Agreement (AEWA)
is an intergovernmental treaty
administered by the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) through which countries cooperate to conserve migratory
waterbirds and their habitats. The Agreement covers 255
species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for
at least part of their annual cycle. The treaty covers a
large geographic area, including Europe, parts of Asia,
Canada, the Middle East and Africa. So far 62 out of the
118 range states have become Contracting Parties to the
International Agreement. AEWA’s aim is to maintain
or restore these waterbird species and their populations
at a favourable conservation status along their flyways,
i.e. throughout the entire area within which the birds migrate.

BirdLife International
is a global partnership of conservation organisations that
strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity.
BirdLife International has long been committed to the conservation
of migratory birds and the habitats upon which they depend.
The BirdLife Partnership is engaged in migratory bird conservation
at numerous scales, from projects focused on individual
species or key sites, to broader policy and advocacy work
to promote migratory species conservation, and involvement
in flyway-scale projects. http://www.birdlife.org/

Sociedad Española de Ornitoligía

- is the Spanish partner of BirdLife International. SEO/BirdLife
is a scientific and environmental NGO founded in 1954 for
the study and conservation of birds and nature in Spain.
Over 11,000 members back the work of SEO and collaborate
in various ways with the organisation. SEO activities are
supported by nine delegations and 32 local groups in 30
provinces. http://www.seo.org/

The Wetlands Centre in
Rabat, Morocco was established by SEO/BirdLife in 2003 in
the framework of a LIFE project, developed in close collaboration
and cooperation with the Moroccan Government. The Wetlands
Centre is currently run by two SEO staff members.

Wetlands International
is an independent, non-profit, global organisation, dedicated
to the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Wetlands International
works globally, regionally and nationally to achieve the
conservation and wise use of wetlands, to benefit biodiversity
and human well-being. Wetlands International has pioneered
flyway conservation work in all major flyways of the World
and has coordinated the development of the Critical Site
Network and Capacity Development components of the Wings
Over Wetlands Project. http://www.wetlands.org/

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
counts 159 Contracting Parties, which have committed themselves
to ensuring the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Under
the Convention, a List of Wetlands of International Importance
(the Ramsar List) has been created and to date over 1830
designated sites around the world have been included in
the List. http://www.ramsar.org/

The Spanish Agency for International
Development Cooperation (AECID)
, attached to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is the body
responsible for fostering, managing and implementing Spain’s
International Development Cooperation policy thus accounting
for an essential part of the Government’s external
action. The AECID’s main objectives are the fight
against poverty and the fostering of sustainable human development.


Wings over Wetlands (WOW) is a joint effort between UNEP/GEF
(The Global Environment Facility), Wetlands International,
BirdLife International, the African-Eurasian Waterbirds
Agreement (AEWA), The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
(BfN), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the United Nations
Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations
Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring
Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and a range of donors and local partners
along the African-Eurasian Flyways. For more information
on the WOW project please see:

For more Information on the WetCap project please

Catherine Lehmann, Programme Officer, UNEP/AEWA Secretariat,
Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152453, E-mail: clehmann@unep.de

Juan Criado Hernández, Head of the International
Unit of SEO/BirdLife, Tel: +34 91 434 09 10, E-mail: jcriado@seo.org

Jonathan Barnard, Senior Programme Manager, BirdLife International,
Tel: +44(0)1223 279 843; Email: jonathan.barnard@birdlife.org

Ward Hagemeijer, Head of the Biodiversity and Ecological
Networks Programme of Wetlands International, Tel: +31(0)318
660 910; Email: ward.hagemeijer@wetlands.org

For media inquiries please contact:

Mr. Florian Keil, Information Officer, UNEP/AEWA Secretariat,
Tel: +49 (0)228 8152451, Mobile: +49 (0)151 14701633 / E-mail:

Press Release: [ english
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Last updated on 16 June 2014

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