Over 150 representatives of government and non-governmental organisations as well as waterbird experts from 80 countries are meeting in Madagascar this week. They are discussing urgent conservation responses necessary to reverse the declines of many migratory waterbird species along the African-Eurasian Flyway.
The meeting highlights recent findings which show continuing declines of many waterbird species in Africa and Eurasia. Delegates are discussing how best to restore the status of these species to meet the target of ‘halting the decline of global biodiversity by 2010’.
“Flyway conservation at work – review of the past, vision for the future” is the theme of the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). AEWA is an international treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds such as ducks, waders, storks, flamingos and many others which migrate along the African-Eurasian Flyways. Countries which have become Parties to the Agreement commit to putting measures in place to conserve the region's waterbird populations and the habitats on which they depend.
“BirdLife are working with partners on the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever to take place across the AEWA region”, said Dr Vicky Jones, BirdLife’s Global Flyways Officer. The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project is aiding international collaboration along the African-Eurasian flyways, improving the availability of waterbird information, building capacity and demonstrating best practice in the conservation and wise-use of wetlands.
WOW supports field projects in eleven important wetland areas in 12 countries. These demonstration projects focus on a number of wetland-related conservation issues including community mobilization, management planning, ecotourism, field research, wetland restoration, control of invasive species, trans-boundary management, education and alternative livelihoods.
The project is also developing the Critical Sites Network Tool, an open access web portal which will improve the availability of information on migratory waterbirds and the sites critical to their survival and help to unify conservation efforts along the flyways. Furthermore, a training and capacity development framework is being developed which focuses on enhancing the professional capacity and understanding of flyway-scale conservation concepts among conservation professionals and decision makers at various levels across the AEWA region.
WOW is a joint effort between Wetlands International, BirdLife International, the Global Environment Facility through the United Nations Environment Programme, the Secretariat of the AEWA, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, the United Nations Office for Project Services and a range of donors and local partners along the African-Eurasian Flyways.