BirdLife Middle East
The BirdLife Middle East aims to build up regional capacity, increase geographical representation and promote conservation of natural resources with emphasis on human needs and nature.
The BirdLife Middle East is implemented by a network of BirdLife Partners and Affiliates in the region - the BirdLife Middle East Partnership.
The BirdLife Middle East Programme officially started in 1994 when the book, Important Bird Areas of the Middle East, was launched at the BirdLife World Conference in Germany. Here Arabs from seven countries met to determine the priorities for bird conservation in the region and agreed these to be:
- The conservation of the Highlands of south-west Arabia (because of the high number of endemic species).
- The protection of the internationally important seabird islands in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea.
- The protection of migratory birds of prey, which pass through the Middle East in internationally important numbers.
- These were known as the Highlands, Islands and Flylands conservation priorities.
The current Programme is based on the BirdLife International Strategy 2000 themes of Species, Sites, Habitats and People.
Identifying and assessing the impact of various threats on Globally Threatened Birds in the region has been a key goal for the Partnership, with a major approach to protect key “bottleneck” sites for soaring migratory birds in the Rift Valley and Red Sea Flyway.
In order to facilitate the proper implementation of the regional programme, and ensure the proper circulation of information on birds, the BirdLife Partnership in coordination with the secretariat has unified and published birds' names in Arabic language, and the list has been adopted, and is widely used in the region.
In terms of conservation action, Partners undertook priorities for many key species focusing on threatened and endemic species of southwest Arabia, along with preparing and carrying out detailed case studies on ecological requirement of key species focusing on breeding sea birds on islands of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
There has been a recent important discovery in the region, where a new colony of the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis has been discovered in Syria. This is the first evidence of the continued breeding of Northern Bald Ibises in the Middle East since a colony at Birecek in Turkey became extinct in 1989. Recently, a team consisted of BirdLife Middle East and the RSPB visited the site in coordination with the Syrian authorities to assist and evaluate the current conservation work and provide the technical and financial support to responsible authorities to ensure the proper monitoring and protection of the newly discovered colony.
Sites and Habitats
Most of the activities being carried out in the region are focusing on threats to habitats in terms of identifying and assessing, where many of these efforts are being directed to wetlands and islands.Two national Important Bird Area (IBA) inventories has been produced in national languages both in Jordan and Palestine, and recently the IBA programme has been launched in Lebanon.
Partners in the region have prepared and carry out large number of conservation projects including detailed case studies on proposed IBAs. Many of these projects were carried out on Sea Islands. As part of the regional activities of BirdLife, a cross regional project combining both Middle Eastern and African Partners of BirdLife International has been approved. The new project aims to protect key “bottleneck” sites for soaring migratory birds in the Rift Valley and Red Sea Flyway.
The people theme under the regional programme emphasizes a wide spectrum of activities aimed at mainstream adoption of conservation actions in cooperation of local people around important biodiversity areas and enhancing education and communications at a regional level through web-based exchange of information and a regional newsletter. Raising both national and regional awareness on BirdLife conservation efforts is a compelling regional need.
Regional capacity building is of high priority for the division and regional partnership. The partnership has increased enormously since the establishment of Middle East programme and potential partners have been identified. This is accompanied by continuous efforts to enhance the Middle East division that would assist the regional partnership in achieving regional training needs and implementation of regional training programmes.
In order to maintain these activities, providing funds and seeking for sustainable funds flow into the region to implement the envisaged activities is required. The regional Partnership has achieved several successful fundraising activities and is currently seeking a sustainable funding mechanism.
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