Migratory Birds and Flyways - Asia

SociableLapwingTurkey - Flock2 (Turan Cetin)

The routes followed by migratory birds on their journeys between their breeding and wintering places are known as flyways. BirdLife Partners in the countries and territories along the world’s great flyways are taking action for migratory birds, by protecting chains of IBAs used as feeding and resting sites, and working with governments, developers and funding agencies to reduce the impacts of infrastructure projects, such as windfarms and power distribution networks, on migratory birds.

East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF)

The EAAF extends from within the Arctic Circle in Siberia, through East and South-east Asia, to Australia and New Zealand, and stretches across 22 countries. Tens of millions of birds of more than 150 waterbird species use this migration path every year. In fact, the flyway is used by more waterbird species in total, and more globally threatened or Near Threatened species (over 80 species), than any other of the world’s flyways. Some of the most threatened of the world’s migratory birds occur in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, including the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, the Siberian Crane and the Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola (all Critically Endangered).

Of the 22 countries within the EAAF, BirdLife has Partners in 12, and works with local organisations in four more. International collaboration is necessary for conserving migratory birds as they pass along flyways spanning multiple countries. BirdLife will continue to work with Partners and local organisations in countries across Asia to conserve critical migratory bird habitat all along the flyways.

The BirdLife Partnership is instrumental in producing international species action plans for several of the threatened species that use the flyway, and is working with governments and civil society organisations to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands as staging sites for migratory birds, and an irreplaceable source of ecosystem services.

Read about the advocacy work for Flyways in Asia.


Coastal wetlands and shorebirds

Shorebirds are the most threatened groups of migratory birds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Many species are in danger of extinction and are severely threatened by the extensive loss of coastal wetlands across Asia. The best known example is the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which currently has a population of less than 600 individuals. Through Partners such as Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and Biodiversity (BANCA), Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), and working closely with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force of the EAAFP, BirdLife International aims to strengthen the conservation of coastal wetlands for shorebirds in Asia. There is currently several long-term conservation work at priority sites such as the Gulf of Mottama (Myanmar), Mekong Delta (Vietnam) and the Inner Gulf of Thailand, as well as broader work to undertake regular monitoring surveys and research. In South Korea, BirdLife is working closely with BirdLife Australia to promote the conservation of shorebirds such as the Far Eastern Curlew to local governments and other stakeholders, while undertaking work to monitor shorebirds and develop artificial roosts.

Inland wetlands

Inland wetlands such as lakes and freshwater marshes are most extensive along the plains of Asia’s great rivers, and support threatened waterbirds such as the Baer’s Pochard and the stately Sarus Crane. Large areas of inland wetlands across Asia have been lost to agriculture, leaving small and scattered patches, and these needs to be better conserve for their important to both biodiversity, but also the ecosystem services they provide for people. BirdLife is working closely with the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association to advance the conservation of important wetland systems for the Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard in the Irrawaddy floodplains of Myanmar. In Cambodia, BirdLife is working closely with local stakeholders through the BirdLife Cambodia Programme to strengthen the conservation of wetlands for the Sarus Crane, one of the most emblematic birds of Southeast Asia’s vanishing freshwater wetlands.

Illegal hunting/killing of birds

Hunting threatens many species of birds in Asia, and has been widely implicated in the drastic decline of species such as the Yellow-breasted Bunting. Although the scale of bird hunting has not been properly quantified, it is believed to be very large based on the emerging evidence from various parts of the region. While part of the problem lies with insufficient legal protection and regulation of hunting tools such as nets, there is a bigger issue posed by hunting for subsistence and the domestic trade in countries across Asia. BirdLife International is currently working with Partners across the region to undertake a situation analysis of the scale of bird hunting in Southeast Asia. This work is aimed at driving future work to strengthen the bird conservation, especially for migratory species at the national and regional level.