This publication analyses the changes in the status of waterbird populations between 1976 and 2005 using the data collected for the four editions of Waterbird Population Estimates published by the organisation since 1994.
Thank you. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen It is my great pleasure to be make this presentation on behalf of Wetlands International. We are very grateful to the kind invitation of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and the the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership for this opportunity. For those of you who do not know, Wetlands International is an international non-governmental organisation that works closely with governments, conventions, technical experts and others to sustain and manage wetlands, their resources and biodiversity for present and future generations. We have our roots in the monitoring and conservation of waterbirds globally, for now over four decades. This accessible, appealing, colourful booklet, the State of the World’s Waterbirds 2010, aims to summarise in an attractive way what is known about the status of waterbird populations in different parts of the world. It shows how numbers and population trends compare from region to region, and how they have changed since the 1970s. The publication goes on to outline the pressures which threaten these populations, and responses to these pressures which have been effective in conserving the status of many populations in some parts of the world. Its publication here at the CBD COP provides a golden opportunity for contracting parties and others interested in biodiversity conservation to review progress towards the 2010 biodiversity target for one important group of fauna. It builds on the information provided in the recently published Global Biodiversity Outlook 3. It also provides the Ramsar Convention with baseline information on one of the key indicators in relation to the implementation of its latest Strategic Plan. In the following slides, I aim to provide you a brief introduction to the book. The book is available to all of you and is downloadable from our website.
Why waterbirds? Waterbirds are among the most fascinating and spectacular elements of biodiversity, important to many people for many reasons. They have evoked the interest of human fascination and wonder through the ages. They provide a range of ecosystem services, grazing on vegetation, controlling populations of lower animal forms, fishes and amphibians. Of course, they have a strong cultural value – for eg. cranes, geese and swans. In many parts of the world they are important as a food resource. Their amazing diversity make them the target of a large birdwatching industry. The two birds featured here the Baikal Teal in Korea and the Lesser Flamingo in Kenya are two examples of this growing phenomenon. Their large size and numbers make them targets for research and monitoring. As a result, they are relatively well studied and we have a lot of information about their numbers, distribution and population trends.
The International Waterbird Census (IWC) is one of the most globally extensive and longest running biodiversity monitoring programmes in the world. Wetlands International and its predecessor organisations, notably IWRB, began these systematic, international-scale counts of waterbirds in Europe in the 1960s and the programme spread to Asia, Africa and South America in the 1980s. The census takes place every year in January, when many waterbirds in the Northern Hemsiphere congregate conspicuously and are relatively easy to count, although this is a time when much of continental Russia and China are frozen and devoid of waterbirds. The census provides an excellent example of citizen science as the counts are undertaken by 10000s of volunteers with an interest in birds. North America, where counts are coordinated by the federal agencies remains a big gap in coverage, although information is being shared.
One of the principal products of the IWC is the periodically produced publication Waterbird Population Estimates (WPE). This is based on the IWC, but includes a lot of data from additional sources. The WPE database includes definitive estimates and population trends for all the world’s waterbird populations, and provides the basis of the 1% thresholds used by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the European Commission, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership and others to designate Wetlands of International Importance. Four editions produced between 1994 and 2006 provide a unique time series of data which was used as the basis of the Waterbird Index produced for State of the World’ s Waterbirds 2010
WPE includes an enormous amount of information about the world’s waterbirds. The latest edition for example covers 878 Species, worldwide, 2305 Biogeographic Populations, Estimates for 79% of pops and Trend estimates for 52%. It covers a large number of families as listed here, species traditionally considered waterbirds.
To produce the Waterbird Index, we converted the trend data for each population into a simple score: increasing populations were given a score of +1, stable populations zero and decreasing populations -1. We then calculated average trend scores for each 10-year period, 1976-1985, 1986-1995 and 1996-2005. The resulting index gives the balance between increasing and decreasing populations, with -1 meaning that all populations are decreasing, and +1 that they are all increasing. This graph shows the overall global index calculated for all the world’ s waterbird populations. It suggests that globally, the balance between increasing and decreasing populations has improved modestly, by about 5%, between 1976 and 2005. The situation is still very serious, with over 47% of populations decreasing or extinct in 2005 compared with 53% in 1975. There are geographic and taxonomic variations, as we will see in the following slides.
We wanted to look in more detail at how waterbird trends vary around the world, and for this it is better to use the flyway approach, grouping species according to the total geographical regions used during their annual cycles. To do this we divided the world into three major flyway systems as demonstarted here. The overlap in the Arctic is clear because of the global tendency for the huge numbers of waterbirds of hundreds of species breeding in the Arctic to migrate to temperate and tropical regions to the south outside the breeding season. The Central Asian flyway (outlined in yellow) is smaller than the others, overlaps extensively with its neighbours and remains rather poorly known. For these reasons, populations occurring in this flyway were merged with their neighbours (often the East Asian – Australasian flyway in green) collected callted the Asia-Pacific for this presentation.
Waterbirds in North America are recovering well from a poor situation in the 1970s, and now more populations are increasing than decreasing. In contrast, the status of populations in South America is poor and worsening, with 58% of populations decreasing in 2005, leading to an index well below the global average
The status of European residents and short-distance migrants and populations using the East Atlantic Flyway is better than the global average. In contrast, African residents and short-distance migrants, and especially long-distance migrants from West and Central Asia, have faed worse, with decreasing populations compared to the global average. Strong decreases in long-distance migrant populations are a feature of this flyway system.
Waterbirds in the Asia-Pacific region have a worse status than elsewhere. 71% of Asian residents and short-distance migrant populations are now decreasing and only 9% increasing. As well as having the worst status, waterbird populations in this region are the most data deficient, and assessments of change since the 1970s are based on a small number of conspicuous species. It seems unlikely that the increases shown between the 1970s and the 2000s are representative of the situation for all waterbirds. The most important point to notice is that all categories are below or equal to the global average.
When the three previous graphs are placed side by side, the very poor status of waterbird populations in the Asia-Pacific compared with the other regions becomes clear. The relatively low proportion of decreasing populations in North America and Europe is also very apparent.
Focusing on the families, the top bar shows the overall situation for all waterbird families in 2005. Looking at this bar, globally, nearly 5% of waterbird populations are extinct (black bar), 40 % are decreasing (red bar), 37% are stable or fluctuating (blue) and just 17% are increasing (green bar). Families that are worse off than average include Rails and Crakes, which has 20% of its populations already extinct – these are mostly specialised island forms unable to cope with the arrival of man and associated cats and rats. Other families with higher than average proportions of decreasing populations include Storks, Sandpipers, Thick-knees, Coursers & Pratincoles, Plovers and Grebes
Focusing on the 117 populations of Sandpipers and their close relatives the woodcocks, curlews, godwits and phalaropes, the proportion of decreasing populations increased steadily between the 1970s and the 2000s so that in 2005, 70% of populations were decreasing and only 10% increasing.
Waterbirds are threatened by a wide range of man made and natural causes. For the African-Eurasian region, which covers over 100 countries and has a mix of developing and developed nations, an analysis performed by Wetlands International and BirdLife International is provided here as an example. The frequency distribution of threats for species globally is quite similar to this. The main manmade threats include biological resource use followed by modification of natural systems, agriculture, pollution and human intrusions. Invasive alien species are a big problem for many waterbird species. The Buff-banded Rail has over 20 subspecies on different groups of Pacific islands. Most of these are very rare and at least 2 have gone extinct since the arrival of man. Introduced fish often disrupt wetland ecosystems and the Hooded Grebe of Patagonia recently had its red-list status upgraded to Endangered, the principal threat to its survival being competition with non-native fish.
Climate change is already having an impact on waterbird habitats. Detailed analysis of detailed waterbird monitoring has shown shifts in wintering populations of several shorebirds by several kilometres northward and eastward in the UK, as shown here.
Globally policy instruments such as the CMS, Ramsar Convention and CBD make important contributions to international policy frameworks that support the protection of waterbirds. Good policy is essential to provide frameworks for action in support of biodiversity at different scales, and legally binding policies can be powerful and effective. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan has generated billions of dollars for waterbird and wetland conservation and resulted in the protection of over 120,000 square km of wetlands, benefitting birds and people. In Europe, the Bern Convention and European Union’ s Birds Directive provide a strong basis for conservation, the latter requires member states to designate protected areas and protect threatened species. The effectiveness of these instruments is one of the principal reasons why waterbirds in North America and Europe enjoy a more favourable conservation status than anywhere else in the world. The flyway approach is now well-established in the region covered by AEWA. A very effective project under AEWA, part-funded by the UNEP and GEF was the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project. One major output was the Flyway Training Kit, designed for use particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia and available in a selection of languages. There are many non-statutory instruments as well, and in the Asia-Pacific region, the Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway provides countries and other partners a mechanism for flyway cooperation in the face of big challenges in a region occupied by about half of the world’ s human population which is undergoing unprecedented (and many would say, unsustainable) economic development.
Another major outcome of Wings over wetland project in the AEWA region was development of a web-based tool for use by practitioners engaged in site-based waterbird conservation and working at international, national and site levels. The Critical Site Network Tool gives practitioners access to a huge amount of data and information about 250 waterbird species at over 3,000 sites, a preview is on the next slide.
The main recommendations include the following: * Ensure full implementation of existing international commitments and mechanisms * Strengthen legislative and financial frameworks for national level implementation, particularly in Asia, South America and Africa. * Identify all key sites for waterbird populations and provide adequate protection to their habitats and biodiversity - ensure their sustainable use in cooperation with local communities and other stakeholders. This links well with CBD Target 11. * Halt and reverse the loss of wetlands and other key habitats outside protected areas - in collaboration with governments, local communities and other user groups, including hunters and industry. * Coordinate management of waterbird hunting at the flyway scale to eliminate the risk of overharvesting populations. * Improve the frequency, consistency and quality of monitoring of waterbird populations - as a basis for the planning and implementation of their wise use and conservation, and as a contribution to the flagship Waterbird Index.
In conclusion, I would like to thank our funders – Japanese Ministry of the Environment facilitated by BirdLife International, and UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs facilitated by The African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement. Thanks also to the 15,000 volunteer waterbird counters who participate in the International Waterbird Census, without which this work would have been very much more incomplete. Thank you also to the Japanese Ministry and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership for providing Wetlands International the opportunity to launch our publication at this event.
State of World's Waterbirds 2010
State of the World’s Waterbirds 2010 Taking stock in the year of biodiversity Taej Mundkur, Simon Delany, Szabolcs Nagy & Nick Davidson
State of the World’s Waterbirds Waterbird Index - Asia-Pacific
State of the World’s Waterbirds Americas Africa-West Eurasia Asia-Pacific
State of the World’s Waterbirds Extinct Stable Declining Increasing hide
Population trends by family Sandpiper population trends are increasingly unfavourable In 2005, 70% of populations were decreasing and only 10% increasing
Major threats to waterbirds Biological resource use Natural system modifications Agriculture & aquaculture Pollution Human intrusions and disturbance Invasive species Residential & commercial development Climate change & severe weather Transportation & service corridors Energy production & mining 0 50 100
Tools for flyway conservation Critical Site Network Tool
Recommendations <ul><li>Ensure full implementation of existing international commitments and mechanisms </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthen legislative and financial frameworks for national level implementation, particularly in Asia, South America and Africa. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify all key sites for waterbird populations and provide adequate protection to their habitats and biodiversity - ensure their sustainable use in cooperation with local communities and other stakeholders. This links well with CBD Target 11. </li></ul><ul><li>Halt and reverse the loss of wetlands and other key habitats outside protected areas - in collaboration with governments, local communities and other user groups, including hunters and industry. </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinate management of waterbird hunting at the flyway scale to eliminate the risk of overharvesting populations. </li></ul><ul><li>Improve the frequency, consistency and quality of monitoring of waterbird populations - as a basis for the planning and implementation of their wise use and conservation, and as a contribution to the Waterbird Index. </li></ul>
Thank you… Download the publication at www.wetlands.org/soww