African-Eurasian Waterbird Census April 2015

New population estimates and trends for AEWA populations

We have recently finished analyses for the 6th edition of the AEWA Conservation Status Report for all AEWA populations. The report will officially be launched at the AEWA MoP in November, but you can already see the new estimates and trends through our online Waterbird Population Estimate web portal.

We are very grateful to all of the experts that have contributed to the updates, and of course all of the IWC coordinators and counters - many of the trends are based on data collected under the IWC. A special thanks also to Tim Dodman, Marc van Roomen, Erik van Winden, Per-Arvid Berglund, Jonas Hentati-Sundberg, Andrea Angel and Ross Wanless for compiling important background documents that made major contributions to the updates. All of these documents are available here.


A pilot wintering waterbird indicator for the European Union

A new report from Wetlands International European Association presents a set of indicators showing the status of waterbirds, considering their special importance in the context of the EU Birds Directive, and the effectiveness of other EU policies designed to maintain their habitats in good ecological status, such as the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Composite indices forwaterbirds show an overall positive trend for waterbirds, though marine specialist species generally have a less favourable trend than coastal or freshwater specialist species.

This report uses data from the International Waterbird Census, one of the largest and oldest citizen science biodiversity monitoring schemes in Europe. This long-term dataset provides a particularly good basis to assess the effectiveness of the EU Birds Directive and other EU policies for the conservation of waterbirds that winter in significant numbers in the European Union.

For more information...

Click here to download the report.


Proposing an adaptive approach to waterbird harvest management in Europe

The Wetlands International Waterbird Harvest Specialist Group has published the report  Towards sustainable management of huntable migratory waterbirds in Europe. The report highlights that 40% of the populations listed on Annex II of the EU Birds Directive, which lists huntable species, have a declining trend. However, the majority of goose populations have increased to the extent that their abundance has lead to significant conflict with agriculture and, in some cases, even causes damage to their sensitive Arctic breeding habitats. Against this background it is more important than ever to apply the concept of adaptive harvest management in Europe. The report explains the adaptive harvest management process and provides guidance on how to determine allowable harvest levels or assess the sustainability of existing harvests. The report demonstrates “that an informed approach to setting allowable harvests does not require detailed demographic information. Essential to the process, however, are estimates of either the observed growth rate from a monitoring program or the growth rate expected under ideal conditions. In addition, periodic estimates of population size are needed, as well as either empirical information or reasonable assumptions about the form of density dependence". Such information exists for many populations, but improvements are needed to improve geographic coverage, reliability and timely data availability. The report also highlights the lack of harvest data at the flyway level, which prevents the assessment of harvest sustainability. The positive experience with the Birds Directive Article 12 reporting on the status of bird species and populations represents a good model for the future collection of harvest data.  

For more information...

Click here to access the full report or here to visit the Waterbird Harvest Specialist Group website


Major Egyptian wetlands covered by IWC

Two members of the Technical Support Unit to the AEWA African Initiative (Jean-Yves Mondain-Monval and Pierre Defos du Rau – French Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage) participated in the IWC in Egypt from 16 to 29 January 2015 to support the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (represented by Dr. Wed Abdou) and the Aswan Nature Conservation Sector team (Hosni Helmy Asran, Haitham Ibrahim, Amr Abd Elhady, Mohamed Ezat). The census covered the Egyptian part of the Nasser Lake and the Nile from Aswan to Asyut. The 500km-long Nasser Lake is the largest reservoir dam in Africa with a perimeter of 8000 km. Both these majorAfrican wetlands were covered in 20 days and TSU provided a brand new telescope to the Aswan NCS team. First results include more than 600 Ferruginous ducks counted around Aswan, a number of international significance for the species. Further work is recommended in Nasser Lake to better control the ongoing poaching of birds (waterbirds included) and to improve management of waterbird hunting activity. Nasser lake was surveyed using a systematic sampling of around 90 shoreline transects and it is hoped that future monitoring of this major wetland of clear international importance would use a similar design. Partners and colleagues at EEAA and NCS must be warmly acknowledged for their excellent organisation and field skills! 

For more information...

Contact Jean-Yves Mondain-Monval, Clémence Deschamps & Pierre Defos du Rau from the Technical support unit to the AEWA African initiative


Rwanda restarts their waterbird census

In 2015 a team from Rwanda will contribute to the International Waterbird census for the first time in a decade. Staff from Birding and Educational Tours LTD will be organising surveys between June - August. In March a preliminary excursion took place in Rugezi, with 18 participants reporting counts for some 16 species, inlcuding substantial numbers of Hottentot teal Spatula hottentota and Yellow-billed duck Anas undulata. We wish the team all the best for the midyear counts!

For more information...

See the Birding and Educational Tours LTD website for more information on their work and activities.


West Africa holds coordinated count for 2015

Wetlands along the West African coast provide refuge for many millions of waterbirds, including wintering European species and intra African migrants or residents. These species play an important part in the functioning of these wetland ecosystems, as well as supporting local communities through tourism opportunities or as a food source. However evidence from the IWC January counts suggests the numbers of manywaterbird species have declined across West Africa since the start of this century. These worrying results highlight the need for continuing and strengthening conservation and waterbird monitoring throughout the region. Together with Sovon and BirdLife, and with the support of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, we and the network of national coordinators in West Africa are committed to a long-term strategy forwaterbird and IBA monitoring in the region. In 2014, the most complete winter waterbirdcensus ever conducted in the East Atlantic covered all major coastal wetlands in the region. This year efforts were concentrated on key sites across 9 countries. By ensuring regular surveys of key sites, combined with intermittent complete censuses, we will be able to produce highly robust trends and estimates for many waterbirdpopulations, to understand the drivers behind changes, and to support appropriate conservation actions. Many of the 2015 counts have already been sent in, and will be included in our annual reporting - our thanks to all of the contributing national coordinators! 

For more information...

Visit the Wadden Sea Flyway Initative website for lots more information on their work across West Africa.


Strengthening waterbird monitoring and data management in francophone Africa

Ensuring consistent and comparable surveys from year to year is the core principle behind effective waterbird monitoring. This helps us analyse and understand changes in waterbird populations over time with a high level of confidence, from the site level all the way up to the flyway. Of course this is often easier said than done - sites change over time, different observers may use different methods, weather conditions will vary from one survey to the next - but strong coordination and data management procedures can help to minimise the effects of these variations. In December 2014 the Technical Support Unit to the AEWA African Initiative and Wetlands International organised a workshop in Dakar, Senegal with representatives from 15 francophonicAfrican countries, to help develop waterbird monitoring and improve data management. This included standardising a site list for each country, correcting historical data and transcribing missing data into a standardised form. Survey training exercises were also held in the Djoudj National Park, and various tools and techniques for streamlining and standardising the collation and storage of data were presented. We are now working to bring these improvements into the IWC database and would like to extend our thanks to all of the particpants for their enthusiasm and motivation!


4th Pan-European Duck Symposium

The 4th Pan-European Duck Symposium (PEDS) was held in Hanko, Finland from 7-11 April. The diverse programme included presentations on the latest reserach into duck ecology, behavior, conservation and management. Keep an eye on the Duck Specialist Group website for a list of abstracts and more news about the meeting!


World Migratory Bird Day: Energy - make it bird friendly!

World Migratory Bird Day is a major annual international event, highlighting the need for conserving migratory birds and their habitats. This year's theme is 'Energy - make itbird friendly!', and many events are already planned under this theme or more generally for migrating birds. Organising an event is not only a great way to raise awareness about migratory birds, but can also be a useful way to raise funds to support your conservation actions or monitoring programmes. Selling tickets for bird walks, sponsored events or bird-themed fairs are just a few ideas. Collaboration with local energy companies could also be explored under this year's theme. If you want to organise an event, then you can get lots of information, inspiration and materials from the World Migratory Bird Day website - don't forget to register your activity on the website as well!



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