Wednesday, November 10, 2010

State of the World's Waterbirds

A new report from Wetlands International describes the current conservation status of waterbird species. The State of the World’s Waterbirds 2010 found that 47% of waterbird populations are decreasing, while 16% are increasing. One of the interesting (but unsurprising) findings is that the rates of change differ geographically.
The report shows how the status of waterbird populations is improving in regions where strong conservation legislation is implemented, such as North America and Europe.

However, the rate of decline of waterbird populations is increasing in all other regions without such instruments. The situation is especially alarming in Asia where 62% of waterbird populations are decreasing or even extinct.

“The combination of rapid economic growth and weak conservation efforts appears to be lethal”, said Ali Stattersfield – BirdLife’s Head of Science. “Waterbird populations are exposed to a wide range of threats, such as agricultural intensification, leading to the loss and degradation of marshes and lakes, as well as unsustainable hunting and the impacts of climate change”.

The status of long-distance migrant waterbirds is generally worse than of those remaining in regions with strong conservation measures. This highlights the importance of coordinated conservation measures across entire flyways from the breeding to the non-breeding grounds.
Among long-distance migrants like shorebirds, 70% of the populations are decreasing. Cranes are an exception, with stable or recovering populations thanks to active conservation efforts. You can read the full report (pdf) online.