Major new analysis of wader population status in Africa and western Eurasia published
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 7 June 2004)
The status of migratory wader populations in Africa and Western Eurasia in the 1990s
The International Wader Study Group has just published its major review of the status of 131 populations of 55 species of migratory waders (shorebirds) in Africa and Western Eurasia in its occasional series International Wader Studies.
For the East Atlantic Flyway, the review updates the assessment made by Cor Smit & Theunis Piersma in the 1980s and which was published in 1989. For other flyway systems in Africa and Western Eurasia, the review provides the first systematic population reviews. The publication contains accounts for each of the species and their populations, summarising current knowledge of population status and trends. Extensive analyses consider thematic, taxonomic and geographic status and issues.
The 259-page review and supporting data can be found on WSG's web-site http://www.waderstudygroup.org and will provide a major source of information for conservationists and researchers.
Amongst the review's many conclusions are:
* Of the 131 populations, 45 are of significant conservation concern because their populations are in decline and/or are small. Some of these are threatened with extinction. Others are in very rapid decline.
* Of those populations for which there are definite or probable trends, nearly four times as many populations are in decline as are increasing.
* Of the three major flyway systems, populations using the East Atlantic Flyway are the most well known - with little over a third in decline. In contrast, not only is knowledge of populations on the other two flyways worse, but their status is much poorer - of populations with known trends, 53% of those on the West Asian/East Africa Flyway are in decline, as are 55% of those on the Black Sea/Mediterranean Flyway.
* Geographic analysis shows that the area with the largest number of declining waders is western Europe. As this is also the area with the greatest extent of international nature conservation legislation, this suggests there is an urgent need to refocus the implementation of this legislation.
* Whilst there has been welcome improvement of knowledge of status and trends, there remain major gaps in our knowledge: for 60% of populations considered, monitoring is insufficient to provide even the most basic information on trends.
* Recommendations are made as to future priorities for the development of wader monitoring in Africa and Western Eurasia.
The final results were incorporated into Wetlands International's third edition of Waterbird Population Estimates (http://www.wetlands.org/pubs&/WPE.htm) - a publication endorsed by the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention in November 2002. Ramsar COP8 urged governments and others to use these population data and derived 1% thresholds for the identification of sites of international importance (Resolution VIII.38).
David Stroud (David.Stroud@jncc.gov.uk)
International Wader Study Group
In its rôle as a global wader expert network for Wetlands International, the International Wader Study Group undertakes the compilation and interpretation of wader population estimates (although the responsibility for data collation from the IWC resides with Wetlands International. WSG also acts as the Wader Specialist Group for IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission.
For some years, the WSG has been involved in re-evaluating population sizes and trends of all species of migratory waders in Africa and Western Eurasia. To this end, technical workshops were held in Belgium in 1996 and in Hungary in 1998 associated with the Group's annual conference.
The final results (which assessed 131 populations of 55 species) were incorporated into Wetlands International's third edition of Waterbird Population Estimates - a publication that in November 2002 was launched at and endorsed by the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention in Spain. Ramsar COP8 urged governments and others to use these population data and derived 1% thresholds for the identification of sites of international importance. A fourth edition of WPE is due to be presented to Ramsar COP9 in 2005.
Breeding Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica (a population that has increased in recent years); photo, Nigel Clark.
Sociable Plover Vanellus gregarius (one of the most rapidly declining waders on the fast track to extinction); photo, Hans Gerbuis.
See also The world's waders are in decline... (6 October 2004)
The Ramsar Forum is an unmoderated mailing list maintained as a service to the public by the Ramsar Convention Bureau in Gland, Switzerland. Facts or opinions posted here do not represent the views of the Convention Bureau or Contracting Parties. To unsubscribe, send a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org. For help, contact the list manager (email@example.com).