20 May 2009

Bird's Eye View on Flyways Report Available

The following is a press release for a A Bird's Eye View on Flyways (4.5 mb) just published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). The 68-page report is in full color and discusses many important aspects of bird migration and species conservation.

"Bonn, 15th May 2009 - Migratory birds have a considerable economic, ecological and cultural value. Birdwatching activities, such as the World Migratory Bird Day for instance, provide a turn-over of billions of US$ each year. If we want to continue profiting from, and enjoying, migratory birds, their ecological requirements will need to be met throughout their lifecycles, and all along their flyways. The numbers of many migratory bird species have gone down significantly, by 40% on average, due to a variety of threats. In order to halt this downward trend, effective measures have to be implemented.

"Flyways of different species or populations of migratory birds do not occur randomly; they show a distinct pattern, which can be used to the advantage of bird conservation. The recognition of major flyway systems, as described in the brochure, can assist in making conservation of migratory birds more effective and more efficient, requiring cooperation among various countries. CMS found it noteworthy to create an information tool that encompasses all this data and offers an insight of structured preservation action. Thus, the brochure, based on a report by Mr. Joost Brouwer with technical support from Mr. Gerard Boere and other experts, was composed, coinciding with the World Migratory Bird Day 2009 in order to raise awareness at all levels of the seriousness of descending bird trends and to offer a feasible solution.

"Flyway cooperation is being organised through a number of already established international treaties and agreements such as UNEP/CMS, UNEP/AEWA, BirdLife International, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International. Some of these treaties and agreements are 'all encompassing' on paper, but for conservation and management to be practicable the consequential on-the-ground projects generally need to be focused on species conservation, habitat and site protection, or threat management. To really catch on with local people, conservation projects should also have a human development component.

"Various advances described in the brochure, such as the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) site project, the Siberian Crane Wetland Project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) or studies on by-catch (see CMS 2008 Thesis award sponsored by Lufthansa and National Geographic Germany), to name a few, demonstrate the importance of looking at migratory bird conservation as a whole - from a bird's eye view!

"CMS, as a framework convention on migratory animals, offers the base for such a structured, international concept of migratory bird conservation. During the last Conference of the Parties in Rome 2008, the Convention established further regulations on flyway development to be found in CMS Resolution 9.2

"AEWA as a role model for all other global flyways presents a variety of ways to implement flyway conservation, including through its involvement in the WOW project. Also the Ramsar Convention put an emphasis on Flyway conservation at its last COP.

"Since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the flyway approach makes the most sense for avian conservation, as it oversees all connected sites, enabling conservationists to predict certain outcomes such as avian influenza and bird population trends. Although it is not an exact science yet, research methods are constantly improving to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of global flyways.

"This brochure helps to understand the necessity of a global network for migratory birds and provides a tool for stakeholders to strengthen capacities in this field of conservation. Key aspects of the flyway strategy are monitoring, conservation action, awareness raising, measuring success and a sound legal framework for environmental issues at an international level."

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