World Wetlands Day 2004 -- Convention on Migratory Species
World Wetlands Day 2004
The sustainable use of wetland habitats is crucially important to conserve migratory species. The conservation of these habitats is a common objective shared by CMS, its Agreements and the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands. Range States are encouraged to use their national wetland policies as one basis to help conserve migratory species with an unfavourable conservation status.
This years theme of World Wetlands Day is From the Mountains to the Sea. Certain migratory species use both habitats. The critically endangered Bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a waterbird that is listed on both CMS Appendices and included in the AEWA Agreements. AEWA initiated the drafting of an International Species Action Plan for this species. The Bald ibis breeds on cliffs bordering the Atlantic Ocean in Morocco as well as on mountains in Syria. Mountains are not only natural barriers to migratory birds. They also offer resting sites that enable the birds to soar. For example White storks use the mountains of the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea to rest and as a starting point to continue their migration by simply gliding on thermals, which carry them on to the resting site. Numerous species covered by CMS and its Agreements depend entirely on wetlands. Wetlands in general are extremely important for a variety of species ranging from fish and mammals to waterbirds, such as the Slender-billed curlew, the Aquatic warbler and the Siberian crane. CMS has concluded Memoranda of Understanding to ensure the conservation of these species. Wetlands also play a role for local communities providing them with food resources, drinking water and other materials such as reed. Beyond this, CMS recognizes the immaterial value of this relationship between wetlands and people due to its cultural heritage.
In order to increase the scope of joint action the Ramsar Convention will sign a Joint Work Plan 2003-2005 with CMS and AEWA at the Global Flyway Conference 4-8 April in Edinburgh. It is based on the Memorandum signed between the Ramsar Convention and CMS in 1997. The Plan seeks to promote international co-operation among Range States to migratory species, which is essential to safeguard migratory species dependent on wetlands. Therefore, the organizations will assist countries in conserving their wetlands and the migratory species dependent on them. The CMS and AEWA Secretariats and the Ramsar Bureau will also decide on priority actions and targets. They identify wetlands of significance for migratory species that might be designated for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Plan also aims at identifying Ramsar sites for migratory waterbirds in Africa and Eurasia.
Regional Agreements concluded under CMS support the conservation of migratory species living in wetlands. AEWA, as the Agreement with the largest geographical coverage, contributes significantly to the achievements of CMS. The year 2004 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Convention of Migratory Species. It provides a dynamic framework within which governments around the world can join forces.