Launch of Waterbirds around the world


Ramsar welcomes major new assessment of threats facing the world's waterbirds

Monitoring waterbirds in Sudan. Photo: Niels Gilissen - MIRATIO.

A major new publication on the status of the world's waterbirds was welcomed today by Ramsar's Deputy Secretary-General Dr Nick Davidson at its launch by the Dutch and UK Environment Ministers in The Hague, Netherlands.

The work to publish Waterbirds around the world commenced at the Global Flyways Conference in Edinburgh in April 2004. It is a landmark assessment: comprising 264 papers and reviews relating to 614 waterbird species from 162 countries. It has new data on 170 globally and near-threatened species and their habitats. Its 960 pages contain the work of 452 authors from 59 countries, and gives a telling insight into the current status of the world's waterbirds. Its content is available at

The studies reported demonstrate widespread declines of waterbird populations in most regions of the world caused principally by loss and degradation of wetland habitats. A key message is that conservation responses must urgently address causes of wetland loss and degradation, as well as enhancing monitoring and research so as better to inform appropriate conservation policies. Numerous reported studies highlight the importance of the Ramsar Convention in providing a national policy framework.

Nick Davison said: "Maintaining the health of ecosystems is fundamentally a matter for societal choice, so it is essential that the science and conservation community gets its message across better to civil society and global governance. However, species-focused arguments are unlikely to have any influence on decision-making on trade-offs between the maintenance of wetland ecosystems and sustainable development, and more potent arguments are likely to involve the importance of maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services so that they continue to support human livelihood. To achieve this requires the maintenance of wetland biodiversity and processes, which in turn will help maintain the ecosystems upon which waterbirds depend. Using waterbirds as flagship indicators of the health of wetland ecosystems can help to secure adequate trade-offs to ensure that these ecosystems can continue to deliver their services. However, more clearly articulating these arguments for continued research and monitoring of waterbirds for the benefit of decision-makers is much needed."

Press release from JNCC, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Wetlands International

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