National Wetlands Update 2012
Issue No. 20, February 2012
A strategy for engaging people in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway
Christine Prietto, Ramsar CEPA NGO Focal Point, Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia
Birdlife on Eighty-mile Beach, WA (Gayle Partridge & the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)
In September 2011 a group of wetland specialists gathered at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore to develop a Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) Strategy for the East Asian-Australasian (EAA) Flyway Partnership. The Partnership provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation of migratory waterbirds and the sustainable use of their habitats. The workshop included staff from the Ramsar Secretariat, the Flyway Partnership Secretariat and representatives of sectors with an interest in the EAA Flyway.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is 130 acres (52 hectares) of tidal wetlands, and the coastline of Malaysia is clearly visible from the edges of the reserve. It is the only area of dedicated nature reserve in Singapore that includes mangrove habitat. The significance of the area for conservation was identified by the Malaysian Nature Society in 1986 and the reserve was gazetted in 2002. Many of the viewing platforms for visitors at Sungei Buloh have been developed around observing migratory birds during their migration and the reserve is a favourite destination for serious bird watchers and nature lovers alike.
The Flyway encompasses 22 countries, stretching from the Russian Far East and Alaska, southwards through East Asia and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand. Each year more than 50 million waterbirds from 250 species migrate through the flyway. During migration these waterbirds rely on a chain of highly productive wetlands to rest and feed, building up sufficient energy to fuel the next phase of their journey.
Importantly, the Flyway is also home to 45 per cent of the world's human population and in many locations people obtain their livelihoods from the same wetland systems that are supporting the birds. Despite efforts over many years, waterbirds and their coastal and inland habitats are under increasing pressure from rapid population growth and economic development, particularly in East and South-east Asia. These pressures impact on the waterbirds that spend the non-breeding season in these countries as well as those waterbirds that use the central parts of the flyway during migration.
East Asian - Australasian Flyway http://www.eaaflyway.net
The EAA Flyway Partnership was launched in 2006 in recognition that a flyway-wide approach is critical to the conservation of migratory waterbirds. Australia played a leading role in establishing the Partnership and continues to provide ongoing support. The Partnership supports development of a Flyway Site Network that has the potential to include at least 200 sites of international importance for migratory waterbirds.
The Partnership recognises the importance of economic development for communities that share important sites with migratory waterbirds. Tourism is one area of economic development that often shares desired locations with those of migratory birds. This poses challenges as well as opportunities. Singapore provides a wonderful example. The island state is home to 6 million people and the population is climbing, so the demand for land is high. At the same time tourism, and particularly nature tourism, is a growth industry in Singapore. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is developing an expansion plan to incorporate a new interpretation area to cater for greater numbers of visitors without impacting on the ecosystem values of the existing site.
The Partnership also recognises that success in building and promoting a Flyway Site Network for migratory waterbirds will depend on awareness raising and capacity building at a local level. This will involve a range of activities to increase knowledge and raise awareness of migratory waterbirds, as well as training activities that build capacity for the sustainable management of migratory waterbird habitat and sustainable development of economic activities that benefit people. These activities were the focus of the workshop.
The task in Singapore was to develop a CEPA strategy to reflect the work done so far by the Partnership Secretariat. The strategy would need to be adaptable and meaningful for the many cultures represented among the Flyway partners. At the workshop selected participants delivered short presentations on the issues that should be included in the CEPA strategy, based on their experience with specific target groups/topics and related to the objectives in the EAAFP implementation strategy. Presentations included:
Partnership for the East Asian - Australasian Flyway http://www.eaaflyway.net
- the Flyway Partnership (Lew Young, Ramsar Secretariat)
- migratory Waterbirds (Phil Straw, Australia)
- wetlands (Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat)
- local communities (Amy Lecciones, Philippines)
- government (Agus Sriyadi Budi Sutito, Indonesia)
- private sector (Sharon Chan, Singapore)
- wetland centres (Christine Prietto, Australia).
The Draft EAA Flyway Partnership CEPA Strategy was reviewed at the Meeting of Partners in November 2011 in Indonesia ahead of implementation in 2012.
For further information contact email@example.com or visit: