Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee
Wetlands International - Asia Pacific, 2001
ISBN 983 9663 30 5
A close relationship has always existed between people and birds. The beauty of these feathered creatures inspires us, their sheer variety and abundance dazzles us, their ability to navigate long distances migrating across continents and arriving and departing in tune with the seasons sparks our imagination and enriches our appreciation of the natural world. Wetlands are treasure troves for waterbirds, especially for migratory species which use these habitats as nesting areas and critical stopover sites along their flyways where they stop to rest and feed. The migratory routes of these birds cover wetlands in many countries transcending national borders on a regular basis from the arctic to the southern hemisphere. People and birds depend on wetlands for their survival.
The annual flights of these birds symbolise the continuing importance of these rich ecosystems. Yet estuaries, lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds and other types of natural wetlands are diminishing at an alarming rate around the world. Wetlands are being reclaimed, drained, polluted, or simply turned into sites for development. The loss of nesting and feeding grounds and resting places, coupled with hunting of birds, along the length and breadth of the Asia-Pacific region has proved to be a disaster for migratory waterbirds and has resulted in the decline of many species.
All countries need to become more aware of the importance of conserving wetlands and migratory waterbirds. Long-term commitment and a sense of stewardship is vital for the protection of wetlands and the migratory waterbirds that depend on them if we are to make a difference. Governments and communities must act together as guardians of the wetlands and the myriad species that depend on them.
We need a multi-faceted approach to conservation that covers awareness raising, capacity building and training, research and management, and takes into consideration the needs and aspirations of local people. Over the last five years, under the framework of the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 1996-2000, the Governments of Australia and Japan have worked with other governments of the Asia-Pacific region, NGOs including Wetlands International, BirdLife International, World Wide Fund for Nature, the Convention on Wetlands and the Convention of Migratory Species, technical experts and local communities to promote the conservation of waterbirds and wetlands. The initiative is coordinated by Wetlands International. Significant progress has been made across a wide range of actions. Three international networks of sites (for Anatidae, cranes and shorebirds) have been established. These Networks have been built by people for people and sites. Training courses, dissemination of wetland awareness and technical material in many languages, have been undertaken. Regional and national meetings have been organised to share experiences and expertise in such areas as conducting research and managing wetlands. All this has been possible through the active participation and cooperation of the peoples of the region.
The Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 2001-2005 offers a sound framework for governments, local people, NGOs, the corporate sector, donor agencies and international conventions to continue to work together in a common cause to save wetlands and migratory waterbirds. It offers the opportunity for greater participation to build on a successful programme and to achieve conservation on the ground, and at a national and international level.
The Governments of Australia and Japan strongly support continuation of the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 2001-2005. We commend it to you and encourage the promotion of the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats through the active implementation of this Strategy.
Ministry of the Environment, Japan