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Scientists warn world’s waterbirds under threat

04-Apr-2004

The world’s waterbird populations have suffered serious declines and reductions are set to continue further unless dramatic conservation measures are taken, a major international conference in Edinbu...
The world’s waterbird populations have suffered serious declines and reductions are set to continue further unless dramatic conservation measures are taken, a major international conference in Edinburgh will hear today. Research presented at Waterbirds Around the World, which is organised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Wetlands International and the Dutch government, indicates that large numbers of species (including many favourite British waterbirds) are decreasing due to human impacts on their wetland habitats and overhunting. At the conference, which starts today and will focus on global conservation of waterbird flyways, scientists will investigate why 49 per cent of shorebirds such as Snipe, Redshank or Lapwing, have declined across the globe, while only 15 per cent are on the rise. Despite conservation efforts around the world large numbers of migratory waterbirds are declining and many, such as the Northern Bald Ibis, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the Slender-billed Curlew are globally threatened with extinction. Professor Colin Galbraith, Chairman of the Conference said: "This Conference provides a timely opportunity to take stock of the health of the world’s waterbirds at the beginning of a new Millennium. The last 40 years have seen the welcome development of international perspectives in the conservation of migrant waterbirds, but there remain major challenges if we are to reverse declines. This is achievable, but will require shared actions and renewed commitment." Max Finlayson, President of Wetlands International said: "Effective conservation of migratory birds will require a concerted international effort, linking wetland sites and continents, based on sound science. This conference provides an opportunity to review our knowledge and to seek new, stronger commitments from governments and institutions to underpin essential monitoring programmes and international flyway agreements." Waterbirds Around the World will draw over 450 representatives from 90 countries, and aims to review progress in migratory waterbird conservation, 40 years after the first international waterbird conference in St Andrews. The event will report research into migrant bird species throughout the world and how problems in one part of the globe can impact on bird species in another. Scientists will discuss a broad range of issues – from the satellite technology used to monitor tagged waterbirds on their migrations, to the impacts of climate change on their wetland habitats. They will examine the impact that disease has on waterbirds, and promote initiatives to ensure that any hunting is undertaken sustainably, given the key economic importance of waterbird harvest in many countries. The event will provide insight into major problem areas experienced in some parts of the globe, such as recent sharp declines throughout Asia-Pacific of the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and the dramatic decline of Oystercatchers and Eider ducks in the Wadden Sea. It will also be a chance for scientists to learn about conservation success stories, such as the rise of the Avocet throughout Western Europe, and how good conservation practices can be shared between countries. Waterbirds Around the World is held between 3-8 April 2004 at the Edinburgh Conference Centre, Heriott Watt University, Riccarton Campus, Currie Edinburgh EH14 4AS. For more information look up www.wetlands.org or www.waderstudygroup.org (Cadiz conclusions) or for interviews or photos of waterbirds contact Sarah Roe, National Press and PR officer, SNH tel: 0131 446 2270 mobile: 07787 836010 or Saskia Henderikse at Wetlands International on Tel: +31 6 4007 4892

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