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From the Arctic to Africa: Protecting Waterbirds and Wetlands

Along the migratory flyway between the Northwest Russian Arctic and West Africa, we are protecting wetlands and waterbirds by developingregional long-term wetland conservation and wise-use strategies. Our goal is to bring together people in the countries across the flyway in Africa, the EU and Russia through networking tools for wetland managers and the development of local conservation action and monitoring.

Action Description:

The problem to be solved

Millions of waterbirds migrate each year along the East Atlantic Flyway, spanning an area from the Russian Arctic to South Africa. Migratory waterbirds (such as the Ruff, at right) in particular are vulnerable to wetland loss because they migrate over long distances and are dependent on networks of wetlands along their migration routes, called flyways.

Economic development and easier access to formerly remote areas at both ends of the flyway is putting pressure on important wetlands that lack adequate protection. Wetland loss is caused by a number of factors, such as unsustainable use, improper water management (using dams) or industrial activities such as mining. The birds are locally threatened by hunting and increased disturbance by humans. These birds cross political boundaries. Therefore, overexploitation can only be averted through international coordination and regional conservation strategies.

Where we work

We focus on two globally important ecoregions for migratory waterbirds:

The Senegal River Delta is situated on the border between Senegal and Mauritaniain a sparsely populated wetland area between Saint Louis and Richard Toll. It is one of the most important wintering areas for migratory waterbirds from the temperate and Arctic zones of Europe, but it is also important for intra-African migrants.

The Arctic coastal tundra (see information about Arctic wetlands) in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Northwest Russia borders the Barents and KaraSeas (see picture on the right). It is among the most valuable areas for Arctic fauna including seabirds, waterfowl, waders and marine mammals. The area is sparsely populated and the traditional area of the Nenets people. The development of oil and gas fields is leading to rapid industrialisation of this formerly undeveloped region. 


What we do

Our aim is to engage local people and governments to reduce the threats that cause wetland degradation and loss. This helps safe waterbird migration while ensuring the ecosystem services provided by these wetlands benefit local communities.

We also investigate areas that are important for migratory waterbirds and nominate unprotected sites. Long-term conservation strategies for the two ecoregions that are of critical importance for waterbirds will be developed. Further aims are strengthened monitoring of waterbirds and management of wetlands through local and regional stakeholder involvement, and a networking programme for site managers in Russia, West Africa and the EU.

Our approach

Together with regional stakeholders, we develop and implement regional conservation and wise use strategies for the two ecoregions. Using existing and new field data, we will identify and promote the designation of internationally important sites as protected areas in both ecoregions, as well as set up participatory monitoring schemes in the Nenets AO.

Through Training of Trainers and other workshops about flyways and migratory birds, site managers in Northwest Russia and several West African countries will have increased understanding of flyway issues and management capacity. 

East Atlantic flyway coordination will be improved to increase the information flow from these two sub-regions and the European Union through networking programmes that promote exchanges and formal linkages between site managers. See our Migratory birds ‐ Connecting Wetlands and People.

Our offices in Senegal and Russia will work to improve the management of key wetland sites along the flyway by promoting a comprehensive approach of strengthened management in these ecoregions. Together they will promote cooperation, networking and exchanges by site managers.

Read more about the agreement between park Directors from Mauritania, Senegal and Russia committing to work for the sustainable management of migratory waterbirds. 

Action Partners: