Shorebird Conservation in the Asia-Pacific Region
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 2 February 1999)
Dear Forum Members,
Here is an update on shorebird conservation in the Asia-Pacific region.
At an international meeting at Kushiro, Japan, in December 1994, it was agreed that there was an urgent need for multilateral cooperation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds in the Asia-Pacific region. The meeting recognised that a suitable international legal framework to develop conservation plans did not exist and called on governments and non-government organisations to work in partnership to develop a regional conservation strategy. In response, the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy was drafted, for the period 1996-2000. The Strategy was discussed and refined at international meetings in Japan and Malaysia and then launched during the Brisbane Ramsar Conference of the Parties in March 1996.
Implementation of the Strategy, through separate Action Plans for shorebirds, cranes and anatidae, is being coordinated by Wetlands International with core funding from Environment Australia and the Environment Agency of Japan. Four international consultative committees (the Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee and the Shorebird, Crane and Anatidae Working Groups) have been established to oversee the implementation of these conservation initiatives for migratory waterbirds.
The Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in Asia Pacific: 1998-2000 has been prepared by the Shorebird Flyway Officer, in conjunction with the Shorebird Working Group, to provide guidance on priority actions that need to be undertaken by government agencies, site managers, researchers and non-government organisations.
The prime focus of the Shorebird Action Plan is the establishment of a network of well-managed, internationally important shorebird sites in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Action Plans for the other flyways within the Asia-Pacific region (Central Asian and West Pacific) will be developed in future years. Over the past three years, Wetlands International has worked to develop the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Reserve Network, which was formally launched in March 1996 during the Brisbane Ramsar Conference and promoted through Recommendation 6.4. The Network now embraces 21 internationally important sites in nine countries within the Flyway. The Action Plan sets specific goals for additional sites, training needs to ensure that the Network can effectively conserve migratory shorebirds and improving the knowledge base on migratory shorebirds in the Flyway.
The Shorebird Working Group, membership and activities to date
The Group currently consists of seven members drawn from the government and non-government sectors. Our desire to keep the Group to a manageable size has required careful selection of members to ensure an effective mix of skills and regional representation. Countries represented are Russia, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia. It is hoped to add a representative from Southeast Asia in the near future. In the case of NGO members, priority has been given to drawing them from national and regional shorebird committees.
Meetings and progress
We are very fortunate that Environment Australia has agreed to provide funding for the the first three meetings of the Group. This support has enabled us to have two meetings to date and has been instrumental in allowing us to move forward.
At our first meeting, which was held at Chongming Dao (Shanghai, China) in April 1998, the major business concerned discussion and approval of the draft Shorebird Action Plan. The need to obtain significant funding was identified as the key success factor. At the meeting we also had the benefit of contributions from observers from South Korea, Singapore, and a number of Chinese organisations.
In June 1998 the Australian Government approved a total of A$ 900 000 (US$560 000) over three years as its contribution towards implementing the Shorebird Action Plan. Very importantly, the funding enables the Shorebird Flyway Officer (Doug Watkins, located at Wetlands International - Oceania in Canberra, Australia) to work full time on shorebird-related activities for the next three years, as well as providing financial support for the priority activities in the Action Plan.
The second Group meeting was held in Nagoya, Japan, in late January 1999. With funding now assured, we worked on detailed implementation of the Action Plan and developed a programme for wide dissemination of information about the Action Plan to regional governments, international and national NGOs, international conventions and others with an interest in shorebird conservation. Our discussions benefitted from participation by observers from a number of Japanese organisations.
The next meeting is planned for late November 1999 in a Southeast Asian country.
The Shorebird Action Plan alone will not ensure shorebird conservation in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In developing the Action Plan we were very aware that available funding was limited and the actions, and targets, developed took this into account through rigorous prioritization. Thus, the Action Plan describes the minimum level of activity required just to get started on the immense task of ensuring the long-term conservation of migratory shorebirds and their habitats in the Asia-Pacific region.
We recommend that the Action Plan be employed by government agencies, shorebird site managers, non-government organisations, researchers and individuals as a guide to how they can use their resources effectively for shorebird conservation. It is very important that a comprehensive suite of complementary activities be developed to support Action Plan priorities.
It is encouraging to see that a number of supporting activities have already been undertaken or are planned. These include shorebird surveys in Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Australia to identify important shorebird areas, training and survey activities in China and Mongolia, and a Dunlin migration project which includes a schools education component.
Copies of the Shorebird Action Plan (as an attached Word 6 file of 6 A4 pages) can be obtained by e-mailing me, or Doug Watkins, the Shorebird Flyway Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Those interested in more information about shorebird conservation activities in Asia Pacific, or who wish to explore how they can contribute, should contact Doug Watkins by e-mail, or at: Wetlands International - Oceania, GPO Box 636, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia (Tel: +61-2-6250 0780, Fax: +61-2-6250 0799)
Mark Barter, Chair, Asia-Pacific Shorebird Working Group, 21 Chivalry Avenue, Glen Waverley, VIC 3150 AUSTRALIA (email@example.com )
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