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Pacific
2 Dec 2015

Shorebirds gain new sanctuary in South Australia

Bar-tailed Godwits and other shorebirds helped by new sanctaury
Bar-tailed Godwit: Photo by Chris T
By Sean Dooley

Paul Sullivan, CEO of BirdLife Australia, welcomed the announcement from SA Environment Minister, Mr Ian Hunter, that the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary will be proclaimed a National Park.

Mr Hunter told the crowd gathered at the Adelaide Flyway Festival in October that the government would also pursue a nomination for the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary to be acknowledged as a site of significance in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway.

The world’s shorebirds are in crisis. According to BirdLife Australia, their populations have collapsed in recent years, and nowhere has this has been highlighted more than in Australia.

Most migratory shorebirds we see in Australia make an astounding migration from Siberia and Alaska each year, an arduous journey along the ‘East Asian–Australasian Flyway’ through China, Korea and South East Asia to spend the summer in Australia.

All along the Flyway, they are losing the habitats they rely on to survive. Their plight was recognised at the Flyway Festival held on the shores of Gulf St Vincent at Adelaide’s St Kilda foreshore.

“Our shorebirds are in big trouble,” said Paul Sullivan, CEO of BirdLife Australia. “We must be driven by a positive future for shorebirds. We need champions to fight the silent shorebirds crisis.”

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Mr Sullivan acknowledged that shorebird conservation was an international issue, and that countries along the flyway need to step up to conserve these birds whose travels span the globe, although it is also crucially important to deal with local issues in Australia too.

The newly established Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary was an important first step, he said.

“The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is a role model for other states. We need more protected shorebird sites in every state and the Northern Territory.”

“If Australia, as a nation, steps up and plays a leadership role in shorebird conservation at home, we will gain the moral authority to ask China and Korea to do the right thing.”

Mr Sullivan highlighted that conservation organisations, such as BirdLife Australia, community groups, experts and governments must work together in a coherent partnership if they are to achieve any positive change, he said.

“If we can articulate together how we will make a difference, we can inspire people to help make it happen.”