Partners with Nature
BirdLife News Round-up: December 2009
“BirdLife International is an exceptional environmental protection organisation”, announced HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco at a recent event in Washington DC, United States. During the evening BirdLife and Audubon (BirdLife in the US) illustrated the challenges we face in protecting seabirds, forests, migratory birds and species on the brink of extinction, and outlined exciting recent progress that has been achieved by working together as a global Partnership (BirdLife and Audubon's conservation work gets Royal support).
Being the world’s largest network of conservation organisations working together is what BirdLife does best and this was highlighted in our December news stories. We helped to run a recent joint workshop with Wetlands International in Senegal which gained commitment from participants from six West African countries to conserving Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for migratory birds along their coastlines. “The project offers an opportunity for coordinated monitoring and conservation of IBAs along the coast of West Africa, and for capacity building, which is crucial for migratory bird conservation, as well as enhancement of the livelihoods of local communities”, said Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson - Africa regional director of BirdLife International (Partnerships strengthen migratory bird conservation in West Africa).
Our Partnership also increased pressure to stop threats to the Tana River Delta in Kenya's north coast which is under unprecedented threat as corporations and foreign agencies scramble to exploit its riches for export crops, biofuels and minerals. NatureKenya (BirdLife Partner) – with support of RSPB (BirdLife in UK), Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS/BirdLife Schweiz (BirdLife in Switzerland) and DOF (BirdLife in Denmark) – are working with local communities to try and stop the proposed poorly planned developments which would result in tens of thousands of people losing their livelihoods. "We're moving forward very fast as one village has already been issued with an eviction notice", warned Serah Munguti from NatureKenya (Kenya's Tana River Delta under siege).
Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by us all is that posed by climate change, and BirdLife Partners from 19 countries were in Copenhagen last month to push for a new deal to be agreed that will tackle the global threats posed by climate change to people and nature. We laid out how the BirdLife Partnership believed that any global deal agreed in Copenhagen must recognise the vital importance of safeguarding biodiversity, ecosystems and the essential services they provide in climate change adaptation and mitigation (Global warning - BirdLife's 5 asks for Copenhagen).
We outlined how climate change is already having multiple impacts on birds and their habitats, and is exacerbating many of the factors which have put one in eight of the world's birds at risk of extinction. Many species may have to shift their ranges to survive, and considerably more losers than winners are expected (Birds and climate change: indicators of a changing world).
BirdLife also published a new report Partners with nature: How healthy ecosystems are helping the world’s most vulnerable adapt to climate change. It shows how healthy, bio-diverse environments play a vital role in maintaining and increasing resilience to climate change, and reducing risk and vulnerability. This is particularly critical to the world’s 2.7 billion poor people, many of whom depend on natural resources directly for their livelihood and survival (BirdLife's case for the role of ecosystems in climate change adaptation).
Tropical deforestation accounts for 15-20% of all human-induced carbon emissions each year. BirdLife wants to see this reduced to zero by 2020, and in response we have launched the Forests of Hope programme to bring together and build on its successful forest conservation and management programmes throughout the tropics (Forests of Hopenhagen).
Sadly, the fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement to tackle climate change did not materialise in Copenhagen. The accord which was ‘noted’ at the COP does not contain targets to help tackle climate change. There is no agreement on a long-term global mitigation target of 50% by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change. There was also no agreement that global emissions should peak by 2015-2020. “The BirdLife Partnership asked the world’s leaders to agree concrete targets in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and they have failed us”, said Melanie Heath – Senior Advisor on Climate Change at BirdLife (COP-out at Copenhagen).
It’s now important that countries build on this accord, and work together to finalise a strong and legally binding agreement as early as possible in 2010. The world’s people and ecosystems cannot afford - and some of them will not survive the environmental, social and economic consequences of further delay…
Credits: Nick Askew