Middle East

New web tool to help migratory soaring birds gets lift-off

By Julien.Jreissati, 10 Feb 2014

The BirdLife UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds project has launched a new web tool that will help protect migratory soaring birds along the Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway.

This innovative web tool has been designed to provide developers, planning authorities and other interested stakeholders access to information on the distribution of soaring bird species along the Rift Valley / Red Sea flyway. This information can help to inform decisions on the safe siting of new developments, such as wind farms, ensuring that negative impacts on this important migration route are minimised.

The Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway hosts the migration of over 2 million soaring birds through the region, with Soaring Birds in huge flocks numbering tens of thousands migrating from wintering grounds in Africa to breeding grounds in Europe and Central Asia and vice versa along the second biggest Flyway in the world for soaring birds.

Yet this area is also subject to huge development pressures, as increased demands for energy, food supply, and tourism lead to significant changes in land use and generate the need for increased waste management. Indiscriminate hunting and illegal killing of birds is widespread. Thus, these five sectors of Agriculture, Energy, Hunting, Tourism and Waste Management can create an increasingly inhospitable environment for Migrating Soaring Birds and have the potential to affect populations of soaring birds across three continents.

The Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project aims to integrate conservation of visiting birds into these key sectors of our societies.

The MSB Sensitivity Mapping Tool is not intended to replace Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) but rather to inform and complement their findings. The performance of the tool will continue to be improved through ongoing data collection—including the incorporation of information gathered through SEAs, where provided.

The tool has been funded by the BirdLife UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds project and is available on the project’s website.