BirdLife's 2007 World Round-up - Part 4: Fights for sites
Habitat loss is behind the declines of many species, and stemming it must remain at the forefront of conservation action. However, BirdLife Partners have been involved in a number of successful campaigns to prevent development of important sites. There was cause for celebration when the Ugandan government dropped its plan to give away a third of Mabira Forest Reserve to provide land for sugarcane plantations, recognising that the value of forest-based livelihoods, ecotourism and carbon sequestration far outweighed short-term economic gains from sugar. There were stays of execution for Lake Natron, breeding site for all East Africa’s Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor, after the Tanzanian government and the Indian-based conglomerate Tata were sent back to produce a new and better environmental statement and consider other sites for soda ash extraction; and also for the Rospuda Valley, as the incoming Polish government cancelled environmental consent for the stretch of the Via Baltica that had been scheduled to run through this unspoiled wetland wilderness. BirdLife has had a role in all these campaigns and will continue to fight for these and other sites.
In August it was announced that after just five years as an independent nation, Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) had declared its first national park. The newly designated Nino Konis Santana National Park –at over 123,600 hectares- links together three of the island’s sixteen BirdLife-designated Important Bird Areas, protecting 25 bird species restricted to Timor and neighbouring islands, and the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea. The Park is also home to the Endangered, endemic Timor Green-pigeon Treron psittaceus, listed as Endangered.
Nature Canada (BirdLife's Canadian co-Partner) congratulated the Canadian government on the temporary withdrawal of more than 10 million hectares of Canada’s Northwest Territories from future industrial development, placing 1% of Canada’s total land mass under interim protection, a move described as “one of the largest designations of its kind in this hemisphere” by BirdLife’s Americas Division. The area includes three IBAs consisting of freshwater lakes, rivers, marshland and sand flats which are crucial stop-over sites for northward-migrating waterfowl like Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus, Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata and Northern Pintail Anas acuta.
Conservation publications by BirdLife Partners featured once again with IBA directories being produced for Malaysia, Timor Leste, Japan, Bulgaria, Romania and New Caledonia. These vital works really do provide the blueprints for future conservation action.
Birds and People by BirdLife research fellow Nigel Collar is a lavishly illustrated exploration of our many-sided relationship with birds. Its publication marked a ten-year agreement between BirdLife International and the book’s sponsor, the global aggregates company Cemex, to protect habitats and biodiversity at its extraction sites worldwide.
So that was the conservation news from 2007, what will 2008 bring?
Can we rise to the conservation challenges that we will surely face over the next 12 months?
Hopefully with your continued support and effort the answer to this will be a resounding 'yes'.
Best wishes for 2008 from all of us at BirdLife.