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‘From the Arctic to Africa’: new initiative protecting key sites for migratory birds


Dakar (SEN) / Ede (NL) / Naryan-Mar (RU) – A new initiative to protect migratory waterbirds flying between the Arctic and Africa has been launched by Wetlands International. Funded by the Arcadia Fund, the three-year initiative will engage local people and governments to develop a coherent approach to the management of the wetland sites used by the birds along the flyway.

Millions of waterbirds migrate each year along the East Atlantic Flyway, spanning an area from the Russian Arctic to South Africa. This flyway is formed by a chain of wetland sites, which the birds use for breeding, staging, moulting, and wintering or as stopover for resting. It includes many internationally important (‘Ramsar’) sites as well as nationally and locally important wetlands.

Bridges of cooperation

“The initiative builds new bridges of cooperation at the sites and a strong network across the flyway through sharing of expertise and experience and to raise the awareness and capacity of local authorities to wisely manage their wetland resources”, says Ibrahima Thiam, regional director, Wetlands International Africa.

The initiative works to limit the threats that cause the loss and degradation of key sites along the flyway, and  thereby assures the safe migration of these waterbird populations (such as the Ruff, at right) while ensuring that the ecosystem services provided by these wetlands benefit the local people that depend upon them. In this way it will complement and enhance the effectiveness of the conservation measures which have been already taken by the European Union Member States in accordance with the Birds Directive of the European Union.

Wetlands International offices in Senegal and Russia, supported by the head office in the Netherlands, will work to improve the management of these key wetland sites along the flyway. Together the offices will promote a comprehensive approach of strengthening management of these ecoregions. Together they promote cooperation, networking and exchange by site managers at three levels: the ecoregion, sub-region and entire flyway.

Selected ecoregions

The initiative will start with the eco-regions of the Arctic coastal tundra in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (left), an internationally important area for breeding and staging birds in Russia; and the Senegal River Delta with the focus in Djoudj National Park in Senegal (below, right) and Diawling National Park in Mauritania. The transboundary site Djoudj-Diawling is of international importance for many northern migrants during the non-breeding period as well as for waterbird species that reside in the region or migrate within Africa.

Intercontinental flyway

“The Ruff and Pintail Duck (below) are examples of two species that fly across this intercontinental flyway and are dependent on sustainable management of these sites. Whereas the Pinked-backed Pelican that breeds abundantly in the Djoudj migrates within the region and will also benefit from improved management of wetlands in West Africa”, says Taej Mundkur, flyway programme manager, Wetlands International.

“Economic development and easier access through new infrastructure bring rapid changes to the Arctic and the life styles of local people. The biodiversity of our planet cannot adapt as fast as the changes are taking place. Migratory species are challenged by varying changes at places that they use at different times of their annual cycle across the flyways. It is important that the needs of these species are taken into consideration. The project will help to develop our responsibility and suggest ways and methods how to help migrating species”, says Tatiana Minayeva, Arctic specialist.

The Arcadia Fund

Wetlands International wants to thank the Arcadia Fund for the funding. The Arcadia Fund is a grant-making fund established in 2001. Its key mission is to protect endangered culture and nature. This includes near extinct languages, rare historical archives and museum quality artefacts, and the protection of ecosystems and environments threatened with extinction.


For more information, contact:

Frank Hoffmann
Wetlands International Head Office
Frank.hoffmann @
Tel. +31 318 660941

Wetlands International action page

Website Arcadia Fund:

Photo: The Djoudj National Park in the Senegal River Delta, Senegal


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