World Bird News June 2013

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2013 |  World Bird News June 2013

European experts on illegal killing of birds draft action plan in Tunis

European experts on illegal killing of birds draft action plan in Tunis

At the end of May bird conservation experts met in Tunis at the Week on Conservation of Birds to identify ways forward to tackle illegal killing of birds. During the event, BirdLife Europe Partners shared best practices on key issues, such as bird poisoning, law enforcement measures and awareness strategies. The focus of the conference, organised by CMS and the Council of Europe, was to identify specific actions and priorities to work on, with the goal of ensuring the recovery of especially migratory birds protected by the CMS and Bern Convention.

Attendants reinforced their position on minimizing migratory bird poisoning, considered as “the one cause that probably has the highest conservation impact”, as Willem Van den Bossche, Nature Conservation Officer at BirdLife Europe stated at the meeting.

On the same subject, SEO (BirdLife in Spain) presented the outcomes of the LIFE+ project VENENO, which is bringing governmental authorities, environmental police and NGOs together. The project aims to fight against poisoned baits, identified as one of the main reasons behind migratory bird deaths, together with rodenticides, lead, veterinary drugs and insecticides.

The participants at the Week on Conservation of Birds prepared a draft action plan to reduce the illegal killing of birds. “When approved and linked to the EU roadmap towards eliminating illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds this will be a good tool to measure progress and results of the actions and to strengthen cooperation between stakeholders within the whole flyway of migratory birds”, says Willem Van den Bossche. In that sense, the Bern Convention, a treaty which recognises that European wildlife and habitats need to be preserved and handed on to future generations, is seen as “an opportunity for North African countries which are parties to the Convention to cooperate and protect important bird areas for migrating birds by including them in the Emerald Network, a network similar to Natura 2000 but outside the EU for protecting nature sites”, stresses Claudia Feltrup-Azafzaf, Executive Director at Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO) – BirdLife in Tunisia.

At the conference BirdLife Cyprus explained its experience on taking cases into courts to prove that mistnets and limesticks are threatening many migrant birds travelling through the island, and insisted on promoting institutional collaboration and pushing law enforcement to address the issue. Another example was provided by BirdLife Malta. In Malta the law enforcement of illegal trapping and killing of protected birds still needs to be enhanced.

Effects of windfarms and powerlines on migratory birds were also analysed during the meeting. The research info and guidelines that will be produced in the follow-up of this conference will be extremely useful to ensure the zero tolerance approach to illegal killing all parties agree on.

The Migratory Soaring Birds project launches its brand new website!

The Migratory Soaring Birds project proudly announces the launch of its brand new website! Easy to use and navigate, this website is designed to provide you with all needed project information and tools quickly and smoothly. A subscription function is available for visitors to follow the website. This will allow you to receive regular news post and events notifications via your preferred communication mean being emails, Facebook or Twitter. That way you won’t miss a thing!

The latest energy sector guidance materials developed by the project are now available and they will be followed by guidance materials for the other 4 targeted sectors, namely agriculture, hunting, tourism and waste management. We encourage you to subscribe and promote the website to all those around you especially to professionals from the five targeted sectors. Stay tuned!

The Migratory Soaring Birds project aims to mainstream birds conservation into the strategies, management and activities of 5 targeted sectors along the Rift Valley – Red Sea flyway. These sectors are the agriculture, energy, hunting, tourism and waste management. The project is financed by GEF/UNDP and is executed by BirdLife International.

Shearwaters show signs of recovery as Allen Cay IBA is declared mouse-free

Allen Cay in the Bahamas, an important breeding site for Audubon’s Shearwater and home of an eponymous endemic iguana, has been declared free of the invasive house mice which were threatening both species.

“This announcement is a major milestone for the recovery of Allen Cay, and we plan to replicate this success on other islands being damaged by invasive alien species,” said Eric Carey, Executive Director of BirdLife Partner the Bahamas National Trust (BNT).

The cay was de-moused by a partnership including BNT, Island Conservation, Dr John Iverson of Earlham College, and Dr Will Mackin, Seabird Co-Chair of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds.

Allen Cay is one of three cays in the Allen’s Cays Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), in the northern Exuma Islands 60 km southeast of Nassau. The IBA supports the third largest breeding population of Audubon’s Shearwaters Puffinus lherminieri lherminieri in the Bahamas, as well as the Allen Cay Rock Iguana Cyclura cychlura inornata, which is listed as Endangered by the IUCN.

The inadvertent introduction of non-native house mice led to an artificially high population of normally transient Barn Owls, which stayed to eat the mice, but ate shearwaters and young iguanas too. The shearwater mortality rate was twice as high on Allen Cay as nearby cays without mice.

Beginning in 2009, the partners conducted extensive planning, field trials and public outreach. The Bahamas Ministry of Environment authorised the project in April 2012, and the mice were removed in the following month.

In the first week of June this year, the partners visited the Cay, confirmed the absence of mice, and noted early signs of a recovering island ecosystem. Preliminary findings suggest a significant drop in shearwater mortality.

Mouse removal is part of a larger effort to restore the natural environment of Allen Cay. To minimise the risk of mouse reintroduction, BNT will develop a biosecurity plan, and work with recreational boaters and fishers.

“Invasive species are the leading threat to the Caribbean’s rich biodiversity”, said David Wege, BirdLife’s Caribbean Programme Director. “By building local partnerships and training practitioners in the region in invasive species removal techniques, we are increasing capacity for island restoration to permanently protect the Caribbean’s native species.”

Funding support was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife. Charter boat operator Powerboat Adventures and the John G. Shedd Aquarium also made significant contributions.

The right renewables? Location, location, location!

The BirdLife World Congress, that brought together nearly 600 conservationists from 120 countries held an important workshop, entitled The right renewables? – wind power, bioenergy and biodiversity.
Renewable energy sources are critical in the transition from fossil fuels towards climate-friendly, low carbon societies. However, there is concern that some technologies, such as most biofuels, large-scale hydro-power, as well as poorly-sited wind farms, and associated transmission lines, can have serious negative impact on nature.The panelists explored strategies and experiences in working with renewable energy developments and provided insight into robust and strategic impact assessment, safeguards, policy development and the importance of environmental recovery in addressing climate change.
Henry Paulson Jnr, The Paulson Institute, opened the session saying that “Our dependence on hydrocarbons is to me by far the greatest threat to the planet- and climate is the biggest threat -, damaging air, water, human health and wildlife”. He went on to stress that “intact ecosystems are a hugely important defence against the impacts of climate, and on top of that the intact ecosystems are what makes life worth living as far as I am concerned. To mainstream renewables at scale, planning how the infrastructure is configured and sited and the technologies that are used becomes very important, as is the need for public funds to leverage private sector financing for renewables.”

Patricia Bliss-Guest, Program Manager, Climate Investment Funds (CIF) Administrative Unit stressed “I personally have an ambition for CIF-finance wind projects to become the gold standard for how wind farms can be compatible with conservation. We believe that by starting to foster conversations among countries, multi-lateral development banks, project development, conservation experts and NGOs we can raise awareness and understanding of the risk, sensitise partners to solutions and foster important south-south exchanges. Our partnership with BirdLife International is critical to this dialogue and we are committed to continuing to work with BirdLife to disseminate lessons and emerging practices among our network of CIF partners. We look forward to our continued collaboration with BirdLife to do our part as we seek solutions to scaling up green renewable energy.”

BirdLife International believes that renewable energy development sensitive to biodiversity conservation is possible, but must be based on rigorous science, sound strategic planning and best practice and policy to ensure that conservation needs are met and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are effectively reduced. A goo example of BirdLife’s work with renewables is the Migratory Soaring Birds Project being carried out in the Middle East and Africa

Khaled Irani concluded “Large scale and rapid roll-out of renewable energies, without unacceptable ecological harm is possible, but requires significant efforts, commitment and collaboration from all players in the field and significant changes to current policy and practice – BirdLife welcomes continued collaboration with key stakeholders to make this possible”.

Guyra’s Yanosky recognised as a leader of conservation in Latin America

Dr Alberto Yanosky, executive director of BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay, has won the 2013 National Geographic Society/Buffett Award for Leadership in Latin American Conservation.

The award, established through a gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, recognises people whose outstanding work and lifetime contribution furthers the understanding and practice of conservation in their countries.

Alberto Yanosky also serves on BirdLife International’s Council, the Waterbird Conservation Council for the Americas, and the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative. He began working in conservation in Argentina around 1985, when he created and managed a privately owned nature reserve, the first of its kind in the country. In 1993 he was invited to lead conservation action in Paraguay. Since then, he has been active not only in Paraguay but across Latin America and the world, working with different partners and contributing to conservation networks around the globe. He serves as an environmental consultant to the World Bank.

Between 2002 and 2005, under Alberto’s leadership, Guyra Paraguay identified and mapped Paraguay’s 57 Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and devised a remote sensing-based IBA monitoring protocol. Among other notable achievements is the Paraguayan Forest Conservation project to conserve ecologically diverse forests under imminent threat of clearance, which has reduced emissions from deforestation and achieved significant co-benefits for biodiversity and local people.

Guyra Paraguay has formed and supported more than 100 Local Conservation Groups, trained more than 500 young conservation professionals, and acquired more than 24,000 hectares of land in different regions, including San Rafael in the Atlantic Forest. Working with the World Land Trust, Guyra Paraguay established the Chaco-Pantanal reserve, and built the Three Giants Biological Station, named after the Giant Otter, Giant Armadillo and Giant Anteater, which the reserve helps to protect along with the Endangered Crowned Eagle Harpyhaliaetus coronatus and Hyacinth Macaw Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus and thousands of migratory waterbirds.

“Alberto Yanosky has made an enormous contribution to the work of the BirdLife Partnership, and we take great pride in seeing his unique personal influence on conservation in Paraguay and across Latin America recognised by the prestigious National Geographic Society/Buffett Award”, said Marco Lambertini, Chief Executive of BirdLife International.

Europe not protecting its oceans or its seabirds

In a press release today, BirdLife Europe brought the attention to the failure of most EU countries to declare a comprehensive network of Marine Protected Areas as mandated by the EU’s Birds Directive. This puts most European seabird species at risk and delays urgently needed protection of our marine environment. BirdLife Europe calls upon the European Commission to stop tolerating this unacceptable situation and to start infringement processes in all countries that are breaking EU law. The press release was launched in connection to the World Ocean Day, which falls tomorrow.

EU Member States have the legal obligation to protect their marine areas as part of the Natura 2000 Network under the Birds and Habitats Directives. This applies to their coastal waters up to 200 nm (nautical miles) from land. The EU Birds Directive, which requires Member States to designate a network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) has been in force since 1979, In recognition of a widespread lack of progress, the European Commission extended an informal deadline for completion of SPA networks to 2012 in the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. This deadline has now expired, but after more than 33 years a comprehensive network is yet to be designated.

Iván Ramírez, BirdLife European Marine Coordinator said “The situation as of June 2013 is extremely worrying. Two major deadlines have passed and only Germany can claim it has identified both coastal and offshore sites and is already working on site protection and management.” He continued “There are other runners-up, such as Belgium and Latvia, but we have major gaps, particularly in Europe’s main maritime nations, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the UK, which are all at the bottom of the league ”.

For many years, Birdlife Europe and its national Partners, have gathered scientific data that has led to the identification of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across the continent. The IBA inventory has been repeatedly recognised by the European Court of Justice as the scientific reference for the designation of SPAs. Despite all this evidence, just 2% of European seas are protected as marine SPAs.

“We have now the scientific data in most of Europe to establish a solid system of marine protected areas for birds, yet lack of political will is hindering real action towards the conservation of our oceans and seabirds”, said Johanna Karhu, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer at Birdlife Europe.

The EU also has international commitments to live up to, such as the CBD (UN Convention on Biological Diversity) target to protect, by 2020, at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas that are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas.

BirdLife Europe is particularly concerned that even countries that have received EU funding, specifically to complete their protected area networks, are not delivering. Typical examples are Portugal and Spain, both with large marine territorial waters and an incredible seabird biodiversity. Both countries finalised their inventories of marine IBAs as a basis for SPA designation back in 2008 thanks to EU LIFE funds, and yet they still have not declared these areas as marine SPAs.

Marine Natura 2000 designation is running far behind the designation on land where most IBAs have now been protected as SPAs. This has followed almost two decades of legal cases of the Commission against Member States, mostly triggered by complaints tabled by Birdlife national partner organisations.
For more information please contact Iván Ramírez, European Marine Coordinator, BirdLife Europe,Email:, phone: +34 646477962


BirdLife International Marine e-atlas, including all EU sites

An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a concept adopted at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1982), whereby a coastal State assumes jurisdiction over the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in its adjacent section of the continental shelf, taken to be a band extending 200 miles from the shore.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2013 |  World Bird News June 2013

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