The Faroe Islands (Denmark) designates three islands in the Faroes

23/06/2012

Denmark has designated three new Wetlands of International Importance in the Faroe Islands, all of them extremely significant sites for seabirds and all of them Important Bird Areas under BirdLife International. Mr Kári Højgaard, Minister of the Interior, Nature and Environment of the Faroe Islands, a self-governing country within the Danish Realm, writes that the "designation of the said islands is based upon the constructive dialog between the Ramsar Secretariat, the Museum of Natural History, the Faroe Marine Research Institute, the University of Iceland, the Faroese Bird Association, the local population of Nolsoy, Skuvoy, and Mykines, and of course the relevant municipalities and representatives from my administration. . . . It is my sincere hope that we can continue the constructive dialog as an important tool for securing the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the Faroes."

The Convention's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Ms Kati Wenzel, has prepared the following summary site descriptions based upon the required Ramsar Information Sheets. The RISs and maps themselves will soon be available on the Ramsar Sites Information Service, and all three can be searched on the Critical Sites Network Tool at http://dev.unep-wcmc.org/csn/default.html.

Mykines. 31/05/12; Faroe Islands; 2,300 ha; 62°06'17"N 007°35'55"W. Important Bird Area. Grassy slopes, sea cliffs and the surrounding sea provide breeding and feeding habitat for an estimated 250,000 pairs of seabirds of 15 species, many of them of European importance. Half of the bird population is made up of the Faroe Island's largest colony of Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) with 125,000 pairs. Common Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar breed here as well as the only colony of Northern Gannet Morus bassanus and Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa in the Faroe Islands. The skerries around the rocky marine shores provide habitat for colonies of European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis, but also for Grey Seals Halichoerus grypus. The site is used for hay making, agriculture, sheep pastures and fishing. The island is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Faroes, offering guided tours and overnight stays. Traditional seabird hunting is practiced, as is the collection of young Gannets once a year. Threats to the site and its bird population include climate-related ecological changes which may already have disrupted the food web of marine birds in the North Atlantic and reduced breeding success in the site. Further threats include the possible introduction of rats to the island and possible tourism-related disturbances. Ramsar Site no. 2051. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Nolsoy (Nólsoy). 31/05/12; Faroe Islands; 2,197 ha; 62º00'33"N 006º40'07"W. Important Bird Area. Grassy and stony slopes as well as the surrounding sea area provide breeding and feeding habitat for one of the world's largest concentrations of European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus, with 50,000 pairs. The extensive sea cliffs also host important breeding populations of Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica, with 30,000 pairs, Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis and Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle. The Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea also breeds here. The breeding success of several seabird species is highly variable and declines in bird numbers have been observed recently. Human uses include agriculture, sheep pastures, ornithological research and fishing. Traditional hunting of Northern Fulmar and Atlantic Puffin is still practiced in the site. The island is easily reachable by ferry and guided tourist tours are offered. Potential factors of threat include the possible introduction of rats to the island; bird hunting, tourism-related disturbance of bird colonies as well as climate related ecological changes. The non-native European frog Rana temporaria has recently been introduced to the island. Ramsar Site no. 2052. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Skuvoy (Skúvoy and Skúgvoy). 31/05/12; Faroe Islands; 1,790 ha; 61º46'11"N 006º49'46"W. Important Bird Area. Grassy slopes and sea cliffs provide breeding habitat for large concentrations of up to 280,000 pairs of seabirds. The site hosts the Faroe Islands' largest colony of Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus with an estimated 10,000 pairs and Common Guillemot Uria aalge with 96,000 individuals. Moreover 12,000 pairs of Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, 50,000 pairs of Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, and 40,000 pairs of Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica can be found in the site. Bird species of European importance include the European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus and the Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria. Great Skua and Arctic Skua also feed along the coast. Human uses include hay making, agriculture, sheep pastures, fishing, research and tourism. Traditional seabird hunting and chick collection of Manx Shearwater is still practiced to some extent. Monitoring data indicate a decline in breeding success and bird numbers. Potential factors of threat include the possible introduction of rats to the island, tourism-related disturbance of bird colonies, as well as climate related ecological changes. Ramsar Site no. 2053. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

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