RAOU Report No. 90
Doug Watkins, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union
National Library, Canberra, June 1993
About the plan
A need has been recognised for a national and international approach to the conservation of the shorebirds that occur in Australia. For its part, the Australian Government has moved to meet this need through participating in a number of international agreements, such as the Ramsar Convention and Migratory Bird Agreements with Japan and China and Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy.
There are 15 species of shorebird that are resident in Australia and an additional 34 species that are regular migrants. Most of the migrant species breed in northern China, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska during June and July and then migrate to Australia for the non-breeding season. The migration route used by these birds is known as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.
Flyway and Australian population estimates have been made for the individual species. The report identifies areas of international and national importance for shorebirds based on criteria developed from those used in the Ramsar Convention. The main criterion used to identify important areas is the support of 1%, or more, of the population of a species. It is estimated that a minimum of 1.1 million resident and 2 million migrant shorebirds occur in Australia.
The application of these criteria to the species population estimates enables 180 areas of international importance and an additional 21 of national importance to be identified. The three most important areas are the south-east Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, and Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach in Western Australia. Each are internationally or nationally important for between 19 and 23 species.
Detailed accounts are given for 43 species of shorebirds and include population estimates, the areas of international and national importance, status, movements and conservation concerns for each species.
Areas identified as being of international or national importance for shorebirds are also presented on a State/Territory basis.
The report will enable more informed decisions to be made about existing and proposed land use and land management activities and the potential for these to affect shorebirds.
An updated status overview of migratory shorebirds in the region (including Australia) is currently being prepared and will be available on this web site later in 2001.