21 Apr 2017

45% of Arctic shorebirds are disappearing - here's the plan to save them

Across the globe, 45% of Arctic-nesting shorebirds are decreasing. The Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy aims to identify the threats and develop strategies to save them.

Western Sandpiper © Glenn Bartley/AGAMI
Western Sandpiper © Glenn Bartley/AGAMI
By Pacific Shorebirds

Across the globe, 45% of Arctic-nesting shorebirds are decreasing. The new Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy aims to identify the threats and develop strategies to save them.

Shorebirds—plovers, oystercatchers, sandpipers, godwits, curlews—can be found along the entirety of the Pacific coast of the Western Hemisphere during some time of the year.

Many species travel from Arctic breeding areas to spend their winter on the beaches and mudflats of North America, Central America and South America, where they share the environment with resident species.

Whether migrants or residents, shorebirds and the habitats they depend upon are exposed to an increasing myriad of anthropogenic threats such as habitat loss, human disturbance, introduced invasive species or climate change. Within the Pacific Flyway, 11% of shorebird populations face long-term declines; none are known to be increasing.

Although the challenges are great, they are not without solutions. Across the Western Hemisphere, shorebird scientists, conservationists and managers have come together to tackle the conservation issues across the annual life cycle of this incredible group of birds. 

Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy project area and focal geographic regions.

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Although there is no doubt that successful conservation depends upon actions initiated locally, isolated interventions will have the best chance for positively affecting populations if coordinated at a flyway scale.

The Strategy follows a logical sequence of setting shorebird conservation targets, identifying major threats and identifying highly effective actions to restore and maintain shorebird populations throughout the Pacific Americas Flyway.

The Strategy is being lead by an international group of more than 85 experts in 15 countries, including BirdLife and some of its Partners.

The intent is to assemble and synthesize information to present a comprehensive approach and to address the most pressing conservation needs in the flyway from Alaska to Patagonia, while considering the human communities that interact with shorebirds. Only with investments in the portfolio of strategies and actions will conservation of this extraordinary group of birds be achieved.

The strategy is not a step-by-step recipe for conservation success but rather a framework for ceaseless collaboration, innovation and accomplishment.

“Shorebirds form a valuable natural resource, and it is the plain duty of the present generation to pass on to posterity this asset undiminished in value” Wells Cooke, U.S. Biological Survey 1910. 

Extensive partner involvement in the development of the Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy will need to be sustained and augmented to achieve success across the flyway and to mold the broad strategies presented here into tangible, spatially explicit actions.

A well-coordinated, collective effort will be needed to achieve overall strategy success; thus, people, and transparent communication among them, are crucial for success.

Readers are encouraged to engage with the strategy’s partners to endeavor to sustain shorebird populations along the Pacific Americas Flyway well into the future.


Project contact information:
Isadora Angarita-Martínez, BirdLife International

Stan Senner, National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the US)

Brad Andres, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Questions for the web release should be directed to River Gates.


Sponsors and participating organizations
Development of the Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy involved more than 53 unique institutions from the Western Hemisphere including 60% nongovernmental conservation organizations, 23% government, 13% academic institutions and independent individuals (4%). The David and Lucile Packard Foundation provided financial support along with the National Audubon Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, MUFG Union Bank Foundation, Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture, USDA Forest Service, and private individuals.