Europe and Central Asia
4 Feb 2014

Action taken for flyways - international counts and conferences working for conservation

Source: BirdLife Europe
By Communication Europe

Early in January and February events have been taking place to protect the Wadden Sea and migration routes along the East Atlantic.

Starting in January, Vogelbescherming Nederland (VBN, BirdLife in the Netherlands) and BirdLife International joined together to count migratory birds in the first comprehensive bird count along the East Atlantic. This transcontinental event brought together local communities, experienced birders and nature lovers of all ages. In total, around 1,500 bird watchers from 30 countries counted millions of waterfowl. This census will help determine where favorite spots for wintering are and where critical sites are located so that protective measures can be taken.

A video was produced by VBN and other organisations in conjunction with the counts which further demonstrates the importance of migration routes and what we can do to make sure they are protected in the future.

On the 4-5 February, political measures for migration birds are being taken at the Trilateral Danish-German-Dutch Government Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea in Tønder, Denmark. Cooperation between the governments of these three countries started in 1978, with the aim to protect and manage the Wadden Sea as one shared nature area of international importance.

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. It encompasses a multitude of transitional zones between the land, sea and freshwater environment, and is rich in species specially adapted to the demanding environmental conditions. It is considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, and is connected to a network of other key sites for migratory birds. Its importance is not only in the context of the East Atlantic Flyway but also in the critical role it plays in the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds.

During the conference an important milestone will take place with the signing of the flyway vision. Yearly up to 12 million birds pass the Wadden Sea when commuting between breeding in the Arctic and wintering in Africa and up to 6.1 million birds can be present at the same time. Governments and organizations along the whole flyway cooperating on the conservation of migratory birds will sign an agreement to collaborate on protecting the flyway as a common heritage that connects countries and people.

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Thanks to these dual efforts, migratory birds will be given the places they need in order to grow, live and breed in a safe haven as well as ensure that their important role in ecosystems across continents is valued and protected from the Arctic Circle down to the most southern reaches of Africa.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.