30 Sep 2016

Guinea begins a new era for conservation of migratory waterbirds

Bird watching during the celebration of World Migratory Bird Day 2016 in Guinea ©Guinea Ecology
Bird watching during the celebration of World Migratory Bird Day 2016 in Guinea ©Guinea Ecology
By Geoffroy Citegetse

Guinea has now acquired tools and capacity to carry out conservation actions of migratory waterbirds. These tools include the availability of the National AEWA Work Plan, the Lesser Flamingo and the Black Crowned-crane Species Action Plan.

BirdLife International, through the 'Strengthening National Capacity for sustainable conservation of Migratory Waterbirds in Guinea' small grant, supported by AEWA with co-financing from the MAVA Foundation under Conservation of Migratory Birds Project, has built the capacity of Government agencies responsible for waterbirds and wetlands management including the Protected Area Authority: Office Guinéen des Parcs et Réserves (OGUIPAR), the Department of Forest and Environment, University Abdel Gamal Nasser, Research Center (CERE), Rio Kapatez  and Tristao Marine Protected  Areas, and Guinea Ecology.

In December 2015, during the stakeholders’ workshop on the National AEWA Work Plan and Species Action Plan, 15 people were trained on waterbird monitoring, identification of waterbirds, census technics and Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) monitoring.

Waterbird monitoring in Sonfonia Plain ©Balla Moussa 

To facilitate the implementation of the species action plan and the coordination with international working groups on Lesser Flamingo and Black crowned-crane, a national working group was nominated by OGUIPAR.

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“I am often convened to meetings on infrastructure and other economic developments in Guinea but my explanations on the impact of development on biodiversity and wildlife habitat doesn't convince anyone. These species action plans are assess for OGUIPAR and factors in how development should take into account the conservation of birds and their habitats for the sake of human wellbeing” Mamady Seiba Keita – General Director of OGUIPAR.

As part of the International waterbird Count, five sites were counted in 2015 and 2016, namely: Tristao Islands, Rio Kapatchez, Delta of Kankoure, Kassa-Ile Blanche and Marigot de Taidy. At least 53 counters participated in the census. The Black crowned-crane and Lesser Flamingo were monitored in Kapatchez and Tristao island. Threats affecting the two sites were land conversion, mangrove cutting, flooding, bush fire, hunting, fishing disturbance and climate change.

To address the issues of migratory birds and especially those of the Lesser Flamingo and Black crowned-crane, Guinea celebrated World Migratory Bird Day 2015 and 2016 and used the event to raise awareness of government agencies, young people and the public about migratory birds, illegal killing, and the taking and trade of migratory birds. More than 500 celebrated the event in Guinea by participating in activities. The media house, Radio Television Guinée (RTG) also broadcasted the event.

From the implementation and results of this project, lessons learned include:

  • The national AEWA Work Plan and Species Action Plans are effective tools for facilitating coordination between different environmental institutions and organizations.
  • The engagement of different stakeholders in the development of the national species action plans and AEWA Work Plan is a “hands on” process which has helped to build capacity on waterbird management.
  • The national species action plans and AEWA Work Plan can be used for fundraising as well as requesting budget allocations from government.
  • Conflicts over responsibility are likely to rise when more than one organisation is involved. Mediator mechanisms such as those provided by the Species Working Group however help to alleviate the severity of these conflicts.
  • Celebration of World Migratory Bird Day is an important event to raise awareness of government, decision makers, youth and public in general.