Global Flyway Initiatives workshop in Korea establishes a “Global Interflyway Network” (GIN)


Presenters and Participants

With the generous support of Seosan City (Republic of Korea), the Government of Switzerland and the Secretariat of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), an international workshop to review good practice in international initiatives for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and other migratory birds was convened by the Secretariats of the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), the EAAFP and BirdLife International as well as Wetlands International. The workshop, held from 17 - 20 October 2011 and attended by 35 representatives and observers from 14 international organizations and seven Korean organizations, was hosted by Seosan City at Hanseo University in the Republic of Korea.

An increasing number of flyway-scale initiatives for migratory bird conservation and wise use have been established around the globe, with varied approaches and status, and with considerable and valuable experiences to share. However, the experiences of these initiatives, while often well publicized within their own flyway, are often poorly known elsewhere. This has led to independent evolution of approaches in different flyways and relatively little exchange of experience between flyways, or between flyway initiatives for different groups of birds e.g. waterbirds, landbirds, soaring birds and seabirds. While many of the challenges faced are similar, different approaches have been taken to tackle them. 

Participants Visiting Seosan Wetland Area

Bean and Greater White-fronted Geese
feeding on rice fields, near Seosan City

This workshop was the first to bring together practitioners from all these flyway initiatives to share lessons learned from the different approaches, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and so provide a more global view of our flyway conservation efforts thus far. This first workshop focussed largely on waterbirds, the taxa for which the flyway approach is most widely developed, but also included representatives from raptor, landbird and seabird flyway initiatives.

Flyway-relevant initiatives examined during the Workshop were:

A. Statutory intergovernmental initiatives

  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and its Memoranda of Understanding
  • The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

B. Public/Private Sector Partnerships

  • East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership

C. Voluntary Initiatives

  • Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) (Americas)
  • Partners in Flight (North American landbirds)
  • Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI)
  • Siberian Crane flyway initiatives (Asia)
  • Raptor flyway initiatives
  • BirdLife International’s Global Seabird Programme
  • Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) partnership (Africa-Eurasia)

Contracting Parties to both the Ramsar Convention and CMS have recognized the need for this inter-flyway approach, and have called for such a workshop process. The workshop was called specifically in response to the request made by Ramsar Contracting Parties at their 10th Conference (Changwon, Republic of Korea, 2008) Resolution X.22, which urged “the governing bodies of flyway initiatives to take steps to share knowledge and expertise on best practices in the development and implementation of flyway-scale waterbird conservation policies and practices, including successful means of disseminating critical supporting data and information to stakeholders and others” and encouraged the Secretariats of Ramsar, CMS, AEWA and the biodiversity programme of the Arctic Council “to work together with their governance and scientific subsidiary bodies and other interested organizations to establish a mechanism for such sharing of knowledge and experience”. The workshop was designed also to respond to CMS COP9 Resolution 9.2 which urged Ramsar, CMS, AEWA and the Arctic Council “to establish a mechanism for sharing knowledge, expertise and experience of best practices across the various ‘north-south’ migratory waterbird flyway initiatives and Agreement" and to contribute to, and be complementary to the other work of, the CMS Working Groups on Flyways and on Future Shape, which are reporting to CMS COP10 in Bergen, Norway (20 – 25 November 2011).

The workshop began with an open session which outlined how each of the flyway initiatives operates, and described some of the main pressures being faced worldwide by migratory birds, and opportunities for enhancing their conservation status. Workshop presentations and discussions were then organized under a) the objectives, operations and experiences of a range of statutory and voluntary flyway initiatives, and b) seven common and cross-cutting themes:

1.  National engagement and implementation
2. Species conservation
3. Site/habitat conservation
4. Role of science
5. Innovative approaches
6. Developing capacity
7. Partnerships and stakeholder involvement

The workshop participants were unanimous in their recognition of the value of knowledge and information sharing across flyway initiatives, and agreed to establish an open and inclusive network of flyway-scale initiatives, so as to facilitate future networking, collaboration and information-sharing between initiatives and their personnel, to be entitled the “Global Interflyway Network” (GIN).

A summary report of the workshop’s conclusions and recommendations is being prepared for consideration by the CMS Scientific Council (17 – 18 November 2011), and a full workshop report is in preparation for publication as a joint Ramsar /CMS/AEWA Technical Report.

Prof Nick Davidson
Deputy Secretary General
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

28 October 2011

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