Swan Specialist Group

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The Wetlands International/IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group is a global network of swan specialists working on the monitoring, research, conservation and management of swan populations. The SSG strives to facilitate effective communication and transfer of knowledge and best practice between members and others with an interest in swan management and conservation.  

Latest News

The Wetlands International/IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group and The Trumpeter Swan Society are pleased to announce that the 5th International Swan Symposium will be held at Easton, Maryland, USA, from 3rd – 6th February 2014. The meeting is being hosted by The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS) and will also serve as the 23rd Conference of TTSS. 

The symposium will feature three days of contributed scientific papers, posters and workshops, with a 1-day excursion on the second or third day of the meeting.  An optional field trip or trips may also be organised.  Papers will cover all aspects of swan ecology, with workshops providing an opportunity to discuss a few specific conservation issues.  These may include illegal shooting, habitat management, population status and management, lead poisoning, the implementation of the AEWA Bewick’s Swan Action Plan and other conservation issues. 

Becky Abel, Associate Director of TTSS and John Cornely, Executive Director of TTSS are co-chairs of the host committee and along with Local Committee chair, Jerry Serie, will supervise local arrangements. Eileen Rees is coordinating the scientific programme for the 5th ISS with members of the Scientific Committee: John Cornely, Bart Nolet, Chris Perrins, Ma Ming and Scott Petrie. The Call for Papers can be accessed by clicking here; abstracts for oral and poster presentation should be submitted to Eileen by 21st July 2013 for consideration by the Scientific Committee.

 The programme should be near-finalised by October 2013, at which time further details will be provided here and on the symposium pages of the TTSS website (http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/2014-conference.html). 

The symposium will be held in Easton, Maryland, at the Tidewater Inn (www.tidewaterinn.com). Main airports for this venue are Baltimore/Washington International and Dulles International. A block of rooms has been reserved for $105.00 US/room/night (for one person or two people sharing).  Registration fees also have yet to be determined, but we hope to hold them to $150.00 US with discounts for early registration and for students.   

The host committee is now embarking on seeking sponsors and any assistance of SSG members in this matter would be most welcome. Please contact Becky Abel if you have any thoughts/suggestions, or are willing to approach sponsors on our behalf. 

We hope that this information is of some help, and that you will be interested in attending the 5th International Swan symposium. We look forward to providing further information shortly, including the call for papers in early spring. 

Kind regards,
Becky Abel (co-host of the 5th ISS0, email: [email protected]
John Cornely (co-host of the 5th ISS), email: [email protected]
John O. Albertsen, email: [email protected]
Eileen Rees (coordinator of the scientific programme for the 5th ISS), email:[email protected]

Past Events

The First Steps towards a Flyway Action Plan for the North-West European Population of Bewick’s Swan 

 On 25-28 September 2009, 30 experts met at the workshop in Saint Petersburg, Russia, organized jointly by Wetlands International, the WI-IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (UK) and hosted by Lenoble Priroda, the St Petersburg based project partner, to develop an action plan for the conservation of the Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) population which breeds in the Russian Arctic and spends the northern winter in NW Europe. After an increase in the 1980s, the population has declined rapidly (by almost 40% according to the data from the International Waterbird Census) since the mid-1990s.

The experts agreed that the conservation of this species depends on the management of all the sites used by the birds along the entire flyway during their annual migration. The most important sites are about a dozen of key stop-over sites along the migration route between the breeding and wintering places that need to be better managed and to maintain their protection status. Although most of the key sites are already legally protected under the European Union’s Birds Directive as well as Ramsar sites and federal or regional reserves in Russia, it is essential to maintain good feeding conditions within and in the vicinity of these sites. The key conservation gap for this flyway population appears to be the White Sea as at least 60% of the birds depend on it during northward (spring) migration to replenish their reserves before the start of the breeding season.

Based on the results of the workshop, Wetlands International will develop and submit for approval a Flyway Population Action Plan to the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement which will trigger further coordinated actions led by the WI-IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group in collaboration with the relevant governmental organizations, research institutes and non-governmental organisations.

Complementing actions taken by wintering states, Wetlands International initiated the UNEP/GEF Wings Over Wetlands project (implemented in partnership with BirdLife International) that contributes to the conservation of important staging sites in the Baltic States such as the Nemunas Delta in Lithuania and the HaapsaluBay in Estonia. The Long Journey project, under the framework of which this workshop has been held is funded by the BBI MATRA programme of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Nature Management and implemented by DLG, Wetlands International HQ and its Russia Programme and the Leningrad Oblast regional authorities in Russia. The two year project (November 2008 – November 2010) aims to demonstrate the flyway conservation approach for a threatened waterbird population, through coordinating actions under the framework of a flyway action plan and through demonstrating specific site management activities (key sites in the vicinity of St. Petersburg). In addition, it will establish closer collaboration across the flyway through a study visit for Russian site managers to wintering sites in Netherlands this November.  

 For further information please contact Szabolcs Nagy