JNCC welcomes UK ratification of AEWA

New International Treaty to Protect Migrating Birds Welcomed by Joint Nature Conservation Committee

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee today (2 February, 1999) warmly welcomed the UK Government’s announcement that it has formally ratified the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). Launched on World Wetland’s Day, this new intergovernmental treaty will establish a common international framework of conservation actions for migratory waterbirds throughout the African-Eurasian region, from the Canadian arctic to central Siberia and south to southern Africa.

Providing a new mechanism for Governments and agencies to work together to address shared conservation issues, the Agreement will help to protect migratory species of divers, grebes, cormorants, geese, ducks, waders, gulls and terns in the UK. For less-developed countries, it will prove influential in providing a means for countries with longer established systems of conservation to share their knowledge and expertise.

Commenting on the Agreement, the Chairman of the JNCC, Sir Angus Stirling, said:

"The ratification of this Agreement is a timely reminder that we have international responsibility for the huge flocks of waterbird that visit our shores at this time of year. These are birds whose fortunes depend not just on the conservation decisions that are taken here in the UK, but also on the actions taken in the many other countries that they visit each year. A treaty that sets a framework for Governments and others to work more closely together is greatly welcomed."

The UK has strongly supported the development of the Agreement providing considerable technical input over the period of its negotiation. As a major wintering area for wildfowl and waders, lying on important migration routes, the UK has a long history of support for international collaboration to conserve waterbirds. In fact, many of the basic techniques of waterbird research and conservation were pioneered in the UK.

The JNCC’s ornithologist, David Stroud said: "We hope that this Agreement will prove an effective means of further collaboration, especially in allowing the transfer of expertise in research and conservation from western Europe to eastern Europe and Africa, where there are fewer people interested in the conservation of these wonderful birds.

This week has also seen the publication of the UK’s annual waterbird monitoring report, summarising counts made by thousands of volunteers at over 2,000 wetlands. This level of interest and involvement in waterbird monitoring is the envy of many other countries."

The first Meeting of the Governmental Parties to AEWA will be held in Cape Town in November 1999. The JNCC looks forward to working with the Government, and many other organisations involved in waterbird conservation, in playing an active role in the effective implementation of the Agreement both within the UK and internationally.

-Ends-

For more information, please contact:

David Stroud, Ornithologist, JNCC Mob: 0802 346384 Tel: 01733 866810 E-mail: stroud_d@jncc.gov.uk

Trudi Harris, Communications Manager, JNCC Tel: 01733 866839 E-mail: harris_t@jncc.gov.uk

Notes to editors:

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds is an inter-governmental treaty linked to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (sometimes known as the Bonn Convention). The text of the Waterbird Agreement was agreed at The Hague in June 1995 following a lengthy period of negotiation.

World Wetland’s Day marks the anniversary of the agreement of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, (the Ramsar Convention) which was signed at Ramsar, Iran in 1971. Each year this day celebrates the sustainable use of wetlands and encourages more people to become involved in their conservation and the species that depend upon them as a habitat.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is constituted by the Environmental Protect Act 1990 to be responsible for research and advice on nature conservation at both UK and international levels. It is a Committee of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) together with independent members and with representatives from the Countryside Commission and the Environment and Heritage Service (N.I.).

Copies of the UK annual waterbird monitoring report, ‘Wetland Bird Survey 1996-97: Wildfowl and Wader Counts’, are available from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Tel: 01453 890333. The report, published by the British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the JNCC, summarises the annual counts made by thousands of volunteers across Britain and the UK and provides a national overview of the status of the UK’s waterbird.

-- reported by Cherry Ann Vickery

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