World Bird News February 2014

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Remarkable wildlife event celebrates 25 years in style

Remarkable wildlife event celebrates 25 years in style

Seabirds and the marine environment will benefit from the 2014 Birdfair (photo Ben Lascelles)
By Martin Fowlie, Thu, 06/02/2014 - 10:27

The world’s largest wildlife event, the Birdfair, has celebrated its quarter century by raising a record amount for conservation. Birdfair, which is held annually at Rutland Water for three days every August, is jointly promoted by the RSPB and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

A cheque for £270,000 was presented at a special reception on 4th February to Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s Chief Executive by Martin Davies and Tim Appleton, the fair’s co-organisers. This donation will help fund the BirdLife International partnership’s work on migratory birds in the grasslands throughout the Americas, from “Prairies to Pampas”.

At the event, the Birdfair also announced that the 2014 event will raise money for BirdLife’s Marine programme. The world's seabirds are more threatened than any other group of birds. BirdLife Partners have been engaged in mapping marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas around coasts, in territorial waters and on the high seas. The funds from the fair will enable the BirdLife Partnership to work with national governments and international bodies to create a network of marine protected areas. These areas will not only conserve seabirds, but will also help protect marine mammals and fish stocks.

This work will be vital if nations around the world are to stand any chance of meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target of protecting 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020.

“For 25 years, the bird fair has funded and helped promote the Birdlife Partnership’s work around the world. This is a major achievement in itself”, said Dr Lambertini. “However, it has also done so much more. The £3.34 million Birdfair has raised over those 25 years has been used as start-up funds for so many innovative projects and ideas that its legacy is so much greater. There is no doubt that the event has become a major force for conservation”

Over the years, the fair has funded a diverse range of conservation projects from parrots in the Pacific to the rainforests of Ecuador and Indonesia.

“What started as an idea over a pint of beer between two friends, has evolved into something on a scale none of us could have imagined”, said Martin Davies. “The fair continues to grow and attract more people and exhibitors, with 350 companies and organisations in 2013 and 22,000 visitors. It goes to show that people really care about nature both here in the UK and also abroad and by working together we can all make a difference for conservation.”

Cambodian jewel protected

By Martin Fowlie, Sat, 01/02/2014 - 07:31

The Royal Government of Cambodia has declared the creation of the Siem Pang Protected Forest. Covering an area of 66,932 hectares, the new Protected Forest covers almost half the Western Siem Pang Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

The declaration of this new Protected Forest on 24 January 2014, comes after several years of lobbying by BirdLife Cambodian Programme and the Forestry Administration. Siem Pang was the missing part of a jigsaw of protected forests that now extends across 700,000 hectares in southern Laos, northern Cambodia and western Vietnam, together making one of the largest protected landscapes in South-East Asia.

“We congratulate the Royal Government of Cambodia for designating part of this unique Important Bird and Biodiversity Area as a Protected Forest”, said Dr Marco Lambertini, BirdLife International’s Chief Executive, “and we look forward to supporting the management of this site in the future.”

BirdLife International and Cambodia’s Forestry Administration have been working together at this site for more than 10 years, conserving its wildlife and habitats, and helping local communities to manage their livelihoods sustainably. Siem Pang is the first new Protected Forest declared in Cambodia for four years.

“Designating Siem Pang as a Protected Forest will not only provide safe refuge to wildlife but it will benefit local communities in the longer term”, said Dr Keo Omaliss, Director of Department wildlife and biodiversity of Forestry Administration. “The Royal Government of Cambodia is committed to establishing more Protected Forest in the near future”

The wider site supports populations of five Critically Endangered bird species, including the world’s largest population of White-shouldered Ibis and one of the largest populations of Giant Ibis, as well as populations of three vulture species.

“We are delighted by this result and it is a crucial step to protect these species”, said Bou Vorsak, BirdLife’s Cambodia Programme Manager. “To secure the globally important populations of these Critically Endangered birds, we now must work together to start sustainable management initiatives in the adjacent area”

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Prince Albert II of Monaco foundation, Giant Ibis Transport, Stephen Martin, and the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture of Taiwan support BirdLife’s work at this site.

CEPF grant to bring hunting in Lebanon under control

By nick.langley, Thu, 20/02/2014 - 14:51

The Lebanese Environment Forum has received a CEPF large grant of over $180,000 to promote sustainable hunting practices in Lebanon, using a community-based approach. The project will complement other work by the BirdLife International/UNDP-GEF Migratory Soaring Birds project, and by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), the BirdLife national Partner.

Despite its small geographical area, 399 species of bird have been recorded in Lebanon. The country lies along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway, which is of global importance for migratory soaring birds. Bird hunting is deeply embedded in the Lebanese culture, but because of low levels of public awareness, is practiced indiscriminately in public and private lands and even buffer zones of protected areas, and many globally threatened species fall victim each year.

The Lebanese Environment Forum (LEF) says that uncontrolled hunting is undermining all conservation efforts in Lebanon, and points out that there are also over 400 hunting accidents each year leading to injury and death.

After two decades of wrangling and delay, Lebanon’s strict new hunting laws at last came into force in December 2012. All species other than specified game birds are protected year-round, and landowners and municipalities have the right to ban hunting on their lands. However, awareness of the law is still limited to professional conservationists, senior representatives of hunting organisations and national government, and hunting over much of Lebanon continues to be uncontrolled.

To accommodate the cultural importance of hunting, while protecting Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, Public Hunting Areas (PHA) will be established. At the PHAs, properly regulated hunting will be permitted, while elsewhere a strict ban will be in force. SPNL and the Migratory Soaring Birds project are in the process of identifying ten potential PHAs on municipal land.

Working with the relevant municipality, the LEF will establish a pilot PHA, with appropriate management and monitoring plans. By the end of the pilot project, the municipality will be full aware of their responsibility to enforce the hunting law, while the PHA model will be ready to be replicated at other sites.

With technical support from SPNL, the LEF will be the main implementing partner of the project, and will mobilise support from its member organisations. The LEF will organise a national workshop to build the capacity of conservation NGO on sustainable hunting and Public Hunting Areas, and develop materials and an action plan for the awareness campaign, which will be implemented locally by the member NGOs.

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