North America Arctic Asia Europe Wadden Sea Atlantic Doñana Banc d’Arguin South America Bijagós Africa Migratory birds, our shared responsibility East Atlantic Flyway Key sites for migratory shorebirds: > 1 million birds > 500,000 birds > 100,000 birds World Heritage Site Birds connect the Arctic, Wadden Sea and Africa The East Atlantic Flyway • Each year many millions of shorebirds migrate from northern breeding grounds to wintering areas in the South. Many travel more than 10,000 kilometres. • These birds rely on a chain of high quality coastal sites to feed and rest. Even the loss of one site can seriously affect a whole population. Flyway conservation pays off • Coastal sites are also important for people, providing livelihoods and economic development. Unsustainable human activities such as poorly planned infrastructure development and over-fishing decrease the quality of sites, for birds and people. • Many shorebird populations in our flyway are in strong decline. Thousands of people, organisations and governments along the flyway contribute to the conservation of migratory birds and the sites on which they depend. Highlights include: • Monitoring of birds and sites, from the Wadden Sea to Southern Africa. • Identification of conservation priorities. • National Species Action Plans developed for Eurasian Spoonbill and Black-tailed Godwit in four West African countries. • Increased capacity for conservation in eight countries in West Africa. • Conservation action in West Africa, including mangrove restoration and reduced disturbance of roosting sites of migratory shorebirds. • Conservation actions contribute to improved livelihoods for local communities. The vision of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) of the Governments of The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark is that ‘Migratory birds find lasting refuge along the East Atlantic Flyway from northern breeding areas to their key Wadden Sea stopover and to the African coastline, and inspire and connect people for future generations’. Projects are carried out under the WSFI that strengthen capacity for monitoring and conservation of migratory waterbirds in Africa. BirdLife International is leading the Conservation of Migratory Birds project which focuses on seven countries in West Africa from Mauritania to Sierra Leone. It aims to build longterm partnerships between governmental organisations and NGOs for the conservation of migratory birds. p h o t o g r a p h y : B A R -TA I L E D G O D W I T A r i e O u w e r k e r k / B u i t e n - B e e l d , G R E Y P L O V E R M a r c G u y t /A g a m i , B U R K I N A FA S O M i c h i e l v a n d e n B e r g h Millions on the move What is the East Atlantic Flyway? • Flyways encompass the whole life cycle of migratory birds. Shorebirds need to stop for food and rest on their migrations, relying on a fragile chain of undisturbed coastal stopover sites where food is plentiful. One broken link in the chain of critical sites connecting the Arctic and the tropics can impact the viability of shorebird populations. Key sites for migratory shorebirds • Shorebirds are especially vulnerable during migration. Some sites are exceptionally important because they support huge numbers of birds. For birds there is no alternative to these key sites. The Wadden Sea Gateway to the East Atlantic Flyway • The Wadden Sea is a crucial stopover site for migratory shorebirds in the East Atlantic Flyway. An estimated 12 million birds rely on the Wadden Sea, one of the main reasons it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2009. • 2.5 million shorebirds spend the northern winter at the Banc d’Arguin World Heritage Site in Mauritania, and many more pass DUNLIN Daniele Occhiato/Buiten-Beeld • The East Atlantic Flyway is the network of sites used each year by millions of birds migrating between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and their wintering sites in Western Europe and along the western seaboard of Africa. Eurasian Spoonbill With more than 2,500 pairs, nearly half of the East Atlantic population of Eurasian Spoonbills nest in and around the Wadden Sea. They migrate in winter to southern and western Europe and West Africa, especially the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania where they join a nonmigratory sub-species which breeds only there. How can the East Atlantic Flyway be conserved? International framework • Cooperation and communication between governments and an Agreement under the Convention of Migratory Species science, civil society and nature conservation organisations is (CMS), focuses on migratory waterbirds and is crucial because crucial for flyway conservation. of its encouragement of flyway-level activities and its influence • Joint monitoring and research activities along the East Atlantic at government level. The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), Flyway are essential to collect information for effective flyway management. The UNESCO World Heritage Convention draws attention to the • Implementation of participatory conservation strategies and most important natural and cultural sites in the world. UNESCO action plans for species and sites, especially the most critical encourages people at the World Heritage sites most important sites. for birds to cooperate in conservation activities. through on their journeys further south. • Coordination at flyway level through Inter-governmental • The Bijagós Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau is another crucial Agreements and collaborative conservation programmes. International collaboration pays off site with 1.5 million wintering birds. The Bijagós is in the process of becoming a World Heritage Site. The WSFI and CMB projects are having an impact on migratory How do we know which species and sites need conserving? bird conservation at international, national and local levels. Highlights include: • Conservation works best with reliable information on bird • A comprehensive flyway monitoring strategy developed for numbers, sites, threats, distribution and migration routes, which shorebirds. is collected through research and monitoring programmes. • An integrated survey of populations and sites from the Wad- • The International Waterbird Census (IWC) coordinated by Wet- den Sea to Southern Africa executed in January 2014. lands International is used to monitor waterbirds throughout the • A flyway vision and Plan of Action developed for migratory world, and the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) pro- bird conservation along the flyway agreed by relevant organisa- gramme coordinated by BirdLife International is used to monitor tions in bird conservation. sites and the threats affecting them. • Capacity for conservation improved through training of partners and individuals via national courses in eight countries in West Africa. Flyway Projects that are helping conserve the East Atlantic Flyway The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark protects migratory waterbirds at the Wadden Sea through implementation of a joint management plan, supported foto: Barend van Gemerden by an extensive programme of bird counts and habitat monitoring. The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) is a response to the increased responsibility of the three governments for conserving migratory waterbirds that depend on the Wadden Sea along their flyways, following the site’s inscription on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It started with two projects in 2012 focussing on: The importance of the Wadden Sea for migratory birds • The Wadden Sea is among the largest coastal wetlands in the More and more people enjoy the spectacle of bird migration. These ‘nature tourists’ boost local economies. • Capacity building through regional and national workshops on the flyway approach, management and network building; • Monitoring, by training of monitoring teams in West Africa, developing monitoring strategies and a monitoring framework for the whole East Atlantic Flyway. world and the most important site for waterbirds in Europe. 2014 The Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project led by migrating and non-breeding stages of their life cycles. BirdLife International focuses on seven coastal countries in West • The central position of the Wadden Sea on the East Atlantic Africa from Mauritania to Sierra Leone including Cape Verde, Flyway makes it the most important resting and feeding area in partnership with Wetlands International and national Non- for these birds on their autumn migration between the Arctic Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The project concentrates and tropical Africa. on capacity building for improved site and species monitoring, • On their return migration, the quality of undisturbed feeding and conservation action in key sites. habitats in the Wadden Sea allows birds to get into good condi- A strong theme is building long-term partnerships between tion before the breeding season starts in the Arctic. governmental organizations, NGOs and local communities. workshop for site managers from across the western coast of Africa. Grey Plover Grey Plovers nest on the tundra of Russia, Canada and Alaska, and in the northern winter are distributed along coasts worldwide. They often feed singly or in small groups, sometimes congregating in huge flocks at high tide roosts. In Africa, this is one of the species characteristic of mangrove areas. Over half of the East Atlantic Flyway population feeds and rests in the Wadden Sea on migration. After a recovery in the 1990s, this population is again in decline. • National species action plans prepared for Eurasian Spoonbill and Black-tailed Godwit in four West African countries. • Conservation action in West Africa, including mangrove restoration, village agreements for sustainable fisheries, and reduced disturbance of roosting sites of migratory shorebirds. • Local communities, site managers and government agencies effectively engaged in conservation activities. Conservation action is contributing to improved livelihoods for local communities. • An exciting new photographic field guide under development, for use by field personnel along the western coast of Africa. • Joint communication plan to raise awareness on conservation of migratory birds along the East Atlantic Flyway in both West Africa and Wadden Sea countries. foto: Barend van Gemerden photo cover: EURASIAN SPOONBILL Ron van Elst/Buiten-Beeld • The Wadden Sea is crucial for at least 60 species at the breeding, • Capacity and networking increased through a major regional Red Knot Red Knots nest in the high Arctic in the months of June and July. The Wadden Sea is a critical site for two of the world’s six sub-species. One breeds in Canada and Greenland; most of this population spends the winter in huge flocks in the Wadden Sea. The other subspecies breeds in Arctic Russia and the whole population passes through the Wadden Sea where they feed and rest before continuing their migration to the west coast of Africa. Both populations are in decline.