East Atlantic Flyway handout

Wadden Sea
Banc d’Arguin
Migratory birds,
our shared
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
• Each year many millions
of shorebirds migrate from
northern breeding grounds to
wintering areas in the South.
Many travel more than 10,000
• 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
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
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.