SPECIAL SESSION: GUIDELINES FOR THE CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY BIRDS IN AFRICA (Wednesday 5 November)

This Special Session has unfortunately required cancellation due to relevant delegates attending the Conference of Parties of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals taking place in Quito, Ecuador, at the same time. However, if you are interested in this initiative, please contact Rael Loon (rmloon@icon.co.za) for more information about future plans.
The following overview refers:

The themes of the 2014 Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice lends themselves appropriately to an appraisal of efforts in the conservation of migratory birds in Africa. Of particular relevance are the management of protected areas; Conservation in the face of change; Threatened and priority species conservation; Planning for biodiversity conservation; Global multinational agreements and Exploring and enabling partnerships

Birds are important for a number of reasons – they help us understand our environment, they are valuable socially and culturally, they act as indicators for biodiversity in general and they provide important supporting and regulating ecosystem services. However numerous bird species and in particular migratory birds are known to be in crisis, with numbers dropping significantly every year. Migrant birds are likely to be more susceptible to environmental change than resident ones, as their complex annual cycle, long-distance migrations and dependence on different sites at different times expose them to multiple threats. Helping to mitigate these threats and improve the conservation status of these species requires focused conservation efforts both locally and internationally.

This special session will accordingly provide an introduction to the phenomenon of bird migration and an overview of the key issues in the science, best practice and value of bird migration conservation. The session will focus on the efforts of local conservation organizations’ in safeguarding habitats and conserving South Africa’s migratory birds. It will cover what we know about the changing state of birds, the pressures facing many bird species and the reasons they are declining. Issues relating to several threatened and key species will be discussed, according to the IUCN Red List. These include the European Roller, Blue Swallow, Northern Bald Ibis, Southern Bald Ibis and White-winged Flufftail.

Recent innovations with regards to monitoring and surveillance and tracking migratory birds will be discussed, such as results gained from work being done on European Cuckoo, African Penguin, European Swift and Nightjars. The migratory pathways and breeding versus non-breeding range maps for species, including several raptors (such as Amur Falcon, Steppe Eagle, Steppe Buzzard, Lesser-spotted Eagle and Lesser Kestrel) and water-birds (such as Ruff and Little Tern) may provide a basis for conservation planning along the flyways.

A secondary aim of this workshop is to establish a migratory bird conservation network with the participation and collaboration of key partners and stakeholders. The Migratory Land Bird Study Group, recently established in the context of the CMS African Eurasian Action Plan is a relevant framework for this. It also provides a basis from which to prioritize relevant efforts in the conservation of migratory birds. Recommendations in this regard will be submitted to the National Focal Point for the Convention of Migratory Species for their consideration. The challenges of developing partnerships along the flyways will also be addressed.

This will be an informal workshop and all stakeholders and interested parties are welcome to attend.