Wetlands International announce start of annual waterbird count


Press release: 10 January 2007

Start of 40th annual worldwide waterbird count

Next weekend, 15,000 voluntary expert observers in more than 100 countries around the world go into the field to count waterbirds. The fieldwork that starts this weekend is known as the International Waterbird Census (IWC). It has been running since 1967 and is coordinated by the NGO Wetlands International. The count is the source of information about the global status of waterbirds and possible changes in populations.

Most observers are members of enthusiastic voluntary networks, with professional coordination at the national level. Altogether they spend about 50,000 hours on this fieldwork. Wetlands international organizes a standard method for the count, which makes it easy to compare yearly census data. Each year, between 30 million and 40 million waterbirds are counted in every continent except Antarctica.

Every three years Wetlands International summarises all the count data in the publication Waterbird Population Estimates; the fourth edition will be released shortly. This publication is a unique source of information on the trends in the world’s waterbird populations, offering crucial information on 878 waterbird species.

The IWC is more than a program to estimate the size of waterbird populations; from the outset it has been a global tool for waterbird conservation. The IWC makes it possible to monitor changes in waterbird numbers and distribution, to improve knowledge of little-known waterbird species and to raise awareness of the importance of waterbirds.

With waterbirds being very good indicators for assessing the status of wetlands globally, regular tracking of waterbird populations also h elps to identify priorities for the conservation of wetland sites at the local, national and international level. It is a guideline for Intergovernmental Agreements on the Environment such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS, Bonn Convention), and the specific agreements about flyways.

For more information on this global programme or on our local partners in the field, please contact:

Helen van de Bund
Communication Officer Wetlands International
tel: +31 65060 1917
e-mail: helen.vandebund@wetlands.org
website: www.wetlands.org

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