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Wings over Wetlands (WoW)

This project aims to improve the conservation status of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds by assisting countries to conserve key wetland areas. The project takes place in 118 Asian, European and African countries along the African Eurasian Flyway.

In this region, we have identified the critical network of wetland sites (for a total of 3,020 sites) for migratory waterbirds.

We train people and raise awareness about the conservation and wise use of migratory waterbirds and the wetlands they use. Demonstration projects are implemented to provide good examples.

Action Description:

The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project is the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever to take place in the African-Eurasian region.

A joint effort
The WOW is a joint effort between leading international and local conservation NGOs, governments, major international treaties and conventions and local communities across the entire region. By enhancing the protection of critical wetland habitats for migrating waterbirds, this initiative also aims at creating opportunities for improving the livelihoods of local communities, as well as safeguarding the integrity of all the important environmental services that wetlands provide.
Launched in 2006, the WOW partnership includes international conservation organizations and national governments, which aims to improve and conserve healthy and viable populations of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds. This will be achieved by assisting a wide range of partners to conserve the key critical wetland areas that these birds require to complete their annual migrations across Africa and Eurasia, by improving international cooperation and by building local professional capacity.

The area covered by this initiative includes all 118 range states of the UNEP administered African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), covering all of Africa, all of Europe, Russia, south-west Asia (including the Middle East and Central Asian States), Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.

WOW is a common undertaking  between Wetlands International and BirdLife International, supported by the UNEP-GEF (The Global Environment Facility), The Government of Germany and a wide range of other donors and partners – click here for more. The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is engaged to support project implementation, based at the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat. The WOW team operates in close coordination with the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, UNEP-WCMC and with many local partners along the African-Eurasian flyways.

The Critical Site Network Tool

A new web portal was developed and provides unprecedented access to information on 294 migratory waterbird species and their 561 biogeographic populations, their migration routes and the key wetland sites these birds use during their annual life cycle in the African-Eurasian region. The Critical Sites Network (CSN) Tool unifies the conservation efforts of countries along the entire Flyway by providing decision-makers and conservation organizations with the improved data access needed for timely and focused wetland and waterbird conservation. The CSN Tools was launched in 14th June 2010 in The Hague (NL) during the celebrations for the 15th Anniversary of the African Eurasian Waterbirds Agreement.

Action on the ground

The project supported field projects in eleven important wetland areas in 12 countries. These projects  focused on a number of wetland-related conservation issues including community mobilization, management planning, ecotourism, field research, wetland restoration, control of invasive species, trans-boundary management, education and alternative livelihoods. Wetlands International leads the WOW Demonstration Projects in Niger and Senegal / The Gambia. The other WOW Demonstration Projects are active in Estonia, Hungary, LithuaniaMauritaniaNigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey and Yemen

Capacity building

A comprehensive training and capacity development framework has been finalised in consultation with a wide range of partners across the region. The result is the Flyway Training Kit, a resources aimed at enhancing the professional capacity and understanding of flyway-scale conservation concepts among conservation professionals and decision makers at various levels across the AEWA region.

 The Training Kit was launched on 14th May 2010 during the fourteenth meeting of the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-14) in the UNEP Premises, Nairobi, Kenya.

Training of Trainers Courses were held in: 

Amman by the Middle East Regional Centre from 9th-14th August 2009 with the support of the training department of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in Jordan;.

for Western and Central Africa was held in Limbé, Cameroon, in November 2009 in conjunction with the Garoua Wildlife College, and;

for the Central Asia, Caucasus and Iran was held in Astana and Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve in Kazakhstan, in collaboration with the Association for the Conservation of Biodioversity in Kazakhstan and the Ramsar Regional Centre - Central & West Asia (Iran). 


Action Partners:

This project is coordinated by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Wetlands International is the senior lead subcontractor  (headquarters together with our Africa and Russia offices).
Major partners are BirdLife International, the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, (AEWA), Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, France, United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Ramsar Bureau.

Donors: The main donors are: Global Environment Facility (GEF), African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, (AEWA), Germany: Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Sweden: Environmental Protection Agency, Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy, Swiss Federal Office of Environment, Forest and Landscape  – Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft (BUWAL)

Visit the WoW website

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