Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 2001-2005

Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee
Wetlands International - Asia Pacific, 2001
ISBN 983 9663 30 5

3.1 Key elements

The Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 2001-2005 aims to enhance the long-term conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats in the Asia-Pacific region. It will build and expand on the successes of the Strategy: 1996-2000. The Strategy: 2001-2005 is based on the principles as set out on page 4.

The Strategy calls for action to be undertaken at the international, regional and national level. The Strategy divides the Asia-Pacific into broad regions as determined by the migration pattern of species along three flyways: Central Asian-Indian, East Asian-Australasian and West Pacific. It also recognises sub regions for some species-groups, for example, within the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, for cranes in North East Asia and Anatidae in East Asia.

Action Plans are to continue to serve as the main tool for promoting conservation initiatives at the regional level. Three Action Plans have been reviewed and further developed for Anatidae in the East Asian Flyway, cranes in the North East Asian Flyway and shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The three existing site networks will serve as a focus for site-based conservation efforts for these species-groups.

An Action Plan for the Central Asian-Indian flyway will be developed to promote action for all migratory waterbirds. In addition, all existing global and regional waterbird Action Plans will be reviewed and promoted. Single species Action Plans will be developed and promoted for selected species.

Interactions with other international migratory waterbird conservation programmes such as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, United States Shorebird Conservation Plan, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement need to be enhanced to provide expertise and linkages to enhance the implementation of activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

National implementation programmes will need to be developed to provide detailed planning for implementation at the national level. Action at national level will involve the national, state and local governments responsible for wetland habitats and the conserving biodiversity. These actions need to be supported and complemented by local people, national and international NGOs, conventions and the corporate and donor community.

The conservation benefits must be clear to local people across the region, as only through the recognition of the importance of the waterbirds and their habitats, can such an ambitious conservation plan be achieved.

The challenge is to ensure that organisations in all countries are involved in the achievement of the outcomes before the end of 2005. National government agencies are encouraged to embrace the key elements of the Strategy within their national agendas. It is recognised that specific actions may differ between countries depending on existing situations, current programmes and availability of resources.

NGOs play an important role in achieving the outcomes of the Strategy, by working with governments and local people to develop innovative and cost-effective programmes to implement activities to promote the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats at the national and international level.

The key elements of this Strategy for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats are as follows:

  1. Action plans for species-groups and globally threatened species.
  2. Effectively managed networks of sites that are internationally important for migratory waterbirds.
  3. Raised awareness of waterbirds and their link to wetland values and functions throughout the region and at all levels.
  4. Increased capacity of government agencies and non-government organisations to implement conservation actions for migratory waterbirds.
  5. An enhanced knowledge base and increased information exchange for the sound management of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
  6. Harmonised national and state policies and legislation as a foundation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
  7. Enhanced organisational relationships at all levels to increase cooperation and deliver greater conservation benefits.
  8. Adequate planning and resources to implement the Strategy.

3.2 Implementing the strategy

Element 1:Action plans for species-groups and globally threatened species.

Rationale

Action Plans serve as the main tool for promoting conservation at the regional level (see 2.6.3, page 11). To focus international attention on the priorities required to conserve migratory species, it is important to continue to further develop and promote implementation of these action plans. For selected globally threatened species that have specific needs, development of single species action plans are encouraged.

The conservation of migratory waterbirds and wetlands in the Central Asian-Indian Flyway is recognised as a high priority. Initial activities identified are networking of experts and the development of an action plan that collates information and identifies regional priorities.

Implementation of these plans requires the active cooperation and participation of all stakeholders.

Outcomes

  1. Five year species-group Action Plans developed and implemented for shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, cranes in North East Asian Flyway and Anatidae in the East Asian Flyway with annual implementation plans developed that include resourcing strategies.
  2. Single species Action Plans developed and implemented for globally threatened species (Swan Goose Anser cygnoides, Baikal Teal Anas formosa, Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana, Saunder's Gull Larus saundersi, and others).
  3. A regional Action Plan developed and implemented for migratory waterbirds and wetlands in the Central Asian-Indian Flyway.
  4. Improved support and involvement by governments, the donor community, conventions, NGOs and the community has been achieved in the implementation of the Strategy.

Element 2: Effectively managed networks of sites that are internationally important for migratory waterbirds.

Rationale

The establishment of three site networks in the East Asian-Australasian region during the Strategy: 1996-2000 (see 2.6.3, page 11) has proved to be a valuable mechanism for promoting and delivering conservation outcomes. The success of these networks to conserve waterbirds will depend on expanding the coverage of networks to include all the important sites and to ensure their effective management.

It is proposed to establish a network in the Central Asian-Indian Flyway during the life of this Strategy. An assessment will be undertaken to determine the importance of establishing site networks to promote the conservation of selected globally threatened species.

Appropriate integrated management underpins the long-term conservation of network sites. Current Strategy initiatives have shown that management outcomes are beginning to achieve greater success when local community needs (for example traditional practices and resource use) are considered and integrated into management plans and activities. The conservation benefits must be clear to local communities in the region, as only through the recognition of the importance of the waterbirds and their habitats, can sound conservation initiatives be achieved. The development of site management plans by site managers, in consultation with the local community, provides a mechanism for integrated management to be achieved.

Outcomes

  1. Established site networks for species-groups in the East Asian-Australasian flyways and selected globally threatened species that include a minimum of 25% of the internationally important sites.
  2. Establishment of a site network for conservation of migratory waterbirds and wetlands in the Central Asian-Indian Flyway.
  3. Model projects developed and implemented that promote sustainable resource use and provide alternative livelihoods to local communities at network sites.
  4. Adoption of management plans at network sites.

Element 3: Raised awareness of waterbirds and their link to wetland values and functions throughout the region and at all levels.

Rationale

Increasing public awareness of the values of waterbirds is fundamental to efforts to promote their conservation. Public support and participation is essential to ensure the successful implementation of the Strategy and Action Plans. To increase the appreciation and awareness of waterbirds and their habitats, it is important to collaborate with existing education and public awareness programmes and to develop new programmes, which are targeted to a range of audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

The success of these education and awareness programmes depends on the development and dissemination of products, materials and tools tailored to the specific requirements of particular countries (e.g. language) and interest groups. Communication mechanisms will also be facilitated through existing and new channels such as wetland/ nature education/interpretation centres, networks sites, Ramsar sites and training courses. Where necessary, wetland centres need to be set-up for effective delivery of these programmes.

Outcomes

  1. A communication and education plan developed for the Strategy.
  2. Availability of a range of general communication products on wetlands and waterbirds in local languages.
  3. Availability of communication and education tools for use at Network sites and education centres.
  4. Enhanced community awareness of the value of managing waterbirds and their habitats through the implementation of wide ranging awareness programmes.
  5. Development of new wetland centres in the Asia-Pacific region to meet identified priority needs.

Element 4: Increased capacity of government agencies and non-government organisations to implement conservation actions for migratory waterbirds.

Rationale

The conservation of waterbirds and their habitats requires a variety of skills and resources at the international, national, state and site level. Providing access to training for site managers provides the most viable and sustainable mechanism for the appropriate management of Network sites.

The existing capacity in countries varies considerably, it is important to assess knowledge and skills and resource needs and subsequently identify and provide appropriate training and infrastructure support. By encouraging international cooperation to build capacity, it is possible to strengthen the spirit of regional cooperation by sharing experiences, skills, and conservation technologies.

The conservation of waterbirds is closely linked to the management of wetlands. The Convention on Wetlands in its Strategic Plan 1997-2002 has identified capacity development as a priority; the links to its activities and those of this Strategy will be identified and cooperative implementation promoted. The links to other conventions and international initiatives that promote capacity enhancement will also be identified and encouraged.

Outcomes

  1. Managers of important sites for waterbirds will have skills in waterbird identification, wetland management, and education and engaging communities in conservation activities.
  2. Enhanced technical capacity of government agencies and non-government organisations to implement conservation actions for migratory waterbirds and wetlands.
  3. Greater co-operation between complementary activities of other bilateral and international initiatives and conventions for migratory waterbird and wetland conservation.

Element 5: An enhanced knowledge base and increased information exchange for the sound management of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.

Rationale

The conservation of migratory waterbirds poses a great challenge as the birds utilise a variety of habitats and food sources throughout the course of a year. Present understanding of the complex requirements of these birds and their habitats are far from comprehensive. It is clear that any assessment of the success of actions implemented during the life of the Strategy will be ultimately based on trends in migratory waterbird numbers. Scientifically sound on-the-ground monitoring and research activities need to be continued or initiated in the Asia-Pacific region as a priority.

In order to ensure access to up-to-date information, the continued development and enhancement of waterbird and habitat inventory and monitoring programmes and information storage systems will be encouraged and supported to ensure that conservation efforts are based on the best available knowledge. Advances in information and communication technology make it possible to increase access and facilitate the exchange of information.

The regular exchange of information and experience is essential to monitor the status of action plans, evaluate and improve methods, identify needs for further work, and review/refine priorities. This requires regular information and experience exchange, and consultation between waterbird and wetland researchers, interested individuals, organisations, agencies, conservationists and other practitioners.

Outcomes

  1. A regional programme to collect information on waterbird diversity and abundance at all important sites.
  2. An updated inventory of important waterbird habitats in the Asia-Pacific region.
  3. Up-to-date population estimates for migratory waterbirds in the Asia-Pacific region.
  4. An improved scientific understanding of migration strategies, threats and conservation needs of waterbirds.
  5. Forums identified and/or established to share knowledge and experience in migratory waterbird and habitat conservation (e.g. meetings, newsletters, web sites etc.).

Element 6: Harmonised national and state policies and legislation as a foundation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.

Rationale

Most nations in the Asia-Pacific region have developed a range of policies and legislation that relate to the conservation of waterbirds and their habitats. As these policies and legislation emphasise national objectives, most do not address the international perspective necessary for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats. For example, several globally threatened migratory species are not afforded adequate flyway wide protection and are hunted in some countries. Harvesting of migratory waterbirds, differing national legislation and levels of enforcement leave species vulnerable to declines or extinction especially where this is combined with the destruction of habitats.

With changing environmental conditions, habitat modifications and other pressures mounting on these species, there is a need to review existing legislation and policy to develop international guidelines for countries to update and harmonise policy and legislation relating to waterbirds and their habitats.

Outcomes

  1. Publication of a review of national policy and legislation pertaining to the management of waterbirds in the Asia-Pacific region and the preparation of guidelines to assist regional harmonisation.
  2. National policies and legislation that recognise the importance of conserving migratory waterbirds and their habitats are promoted to support the management and conservation of waterbirds and their habitats.

Element 7: Enhanced organisational relationships at all levels to increase cooperation and deliver greater conservation benefits.

Rationale

A fundamental principle of the Strategy is that cooperative action is the only means to ensure the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats. As the nature of this action is "cooperative" it is essential that constructive relations are built and maintained with a wide range of organisations and individuals.

Coordination of implementation of the Strategy: 1996-2000 has built a coalition of national government agencies, international Convention staff and NGOs. The development and implementation of action plans build additional relationships between waterbird biologists, site managers, local communities and national government organisations. These coalitions need to be expanded to enable more comprehensive and sustainable outcomes over the 2001- 2005 period.

Links between site managers and the local community are crucial to maintaining the values of waterbird habitat.

Outcomes

  1. Linkages between local communities at different sites within each of the migratory waterbird networks have been established.
  2. Cooperative implementation of Action Plans and actions at Network sites involving governments, conventions, site managers, NGOs and local communities.

Element 8: Adequate planning and resources to implement the Strategy.

Rationale

To achieve the outcomes of the Strategy and to successfully implement the Action Plans, adequate planning and programme management will be required. The MWCC and Working Groups provide the institutional mechanisms for the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plans at the international level (refer to 4.1, page 22 for further information).

A detailed Strategy implementation plan will be developed in consultation with governments and NGOs to achieve the broader objectives of the Strategy not covered by the species-group action plans. This will ensure a co-ordinated approach for all migratory waterbird conservation efforts in the region.

Detailed work programmes with annual milestones will be prepared for the Waterbird Officers.

Planning and implementation of the Strategy at the national and local level will be promoted by detailed planning and the development of an agenda for joint action with other partners. Their development will benefit through creating closer links and synergies with the MWCC and Working Groups.

Considerable financial resources need to be mobilised at the international and national level to achieve the outcomes of the Strategy. This is especially relevant for a number of countries whose economies are in transition.

A number of agencies and organisations are funding some ongoing activities. Additional financial resources will be necessary to ensure timely implementation of the Strategy. The support of the development assistance community, corporations, national and state governments, conventions and non-government organisations will be vital to achieve the aims of the Strategy.

Outcomes

  1. Effective operation of the MWCC and Working Groups to promote and monitor implementation of the Strategy and Action Plans.
  2. Engagement of personnel to coordinate, promote and monitor implementation of the Strategy and Action Plans.
  3. Annual implementation plans for the Strategy and Action Plans including resourcing strategies.
  4. National implementation plans for the Strategy developed and supported by all relevant stakeholders.
  5. Increased funding directed towards the conservation and management of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.