Wildlife Conservation News



 
Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

 RSS Feed

Category: Wetland Conservation

  1. World Wetlands Day is 2 February

    Posted on

    Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea

    Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea.  The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day. 

    This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetland biodiversity conservation.

    Where are wetlands?

    Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers.  They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet. 


    "If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood.  As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live.   The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.”  WWT

    Why wetlands matter to people:

    • They provide us with drinking water
    • They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
    • They buffer us from floods and droughts
    • They are important for our health and wellbeing

    Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?

    40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.

    They are vital breeding and feeding grounds for migratory birds – stopover points, if you like. Banc d’Arguin National Park (Mauritania) is one of the most important zones in the world for nesting birds and Palearctic migratory waders, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I) (China).  These birds use wetlands such as our coastlines to stop, moult, rest, winter or nest.  

    Pantanal Conservation Area (Brazil) is one of the world's largest freshwater wetland ecosystems.

    Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.

    So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?

     A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.

    Our wetlands are threatened by:

    • Pollution
    • Climate change
    • Dams
    • Over-exploitation

    Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure.  It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African  wild dog.  In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.

    In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.

    WWT say that:

    Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%

    In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands

    30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.

    However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield.  Find out more about their plans for 2020

     At their Llanelli wetland centre, they created new islands, nest boxes, rafts, scrapes and pools.  This gave waterbirds such as the lapwing somewhere to breed.  Find out more here



    At Slimbridge, they have just had two spoon-billed sandpipers have just hatched (after 8 years of trying)!   This is really good news – breeding pairs worldwide are under 200.  The chicks are the size of bumblebees, so that gives you an idea of how small the birds are!

    So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?

     WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly.  But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down. 

    • Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
    • Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there.   Use your senses while you visit.  Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
    • Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
    • Volunteer for local wetland charities
    • Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
    • Become a member and find out more
    • Spread the word about wetlands and follow #WetlandBiodiversityMatters to see what’s happening
    • Adopt an animal as a gift – you can adopt a swan, duck, crane from the WWT




    Further Resources

    World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation

    Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site.  The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!

    RAMSAR –  The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. 

    World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help

    WWT – the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK.   Visit one of their 10 sites around the UK and/or visit their website to see how you can get involved.

    The Global Wetland Outlook – take a look, it’s fascinating reading

     

  2. 41 new Marine Conservation Zones expands England’s Blue Belt

    Posted on

    In the run up to World Oceans Day (8th June every year), Environment Secretary Michael Gove has created 41 new Marine Conservation Zones.

    This represents the most significant expansion of England’s Blue Belt of Protected Areas to date.

    Stretching from Northumberland (where eider ducks live) to the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall (basking sharks, seabirds and fish) , the action Gove has taken safeguards 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitat.   A substantial number of additional zones were created in waters away from the coast – some in the deep sea – thus giving protection to habitats and species such as coral gardens, fan mussel and sea pens.

    Here’s a map showing the Marine Protected Areas

    Vulnerable marine wildlife will now have an opportunity to recover.    And if there are richer habitats for marine life, so there life will be better for those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy coastline and sea. 

    WWF has discovered that in marine protected areas, fish breed more readily and populations recover.  In the Apo Island (Philippines), communities depend heavily on fish.   After a marine protected area was created, catch per unit increased 50%.  Fish populations tripled.  Fisherman were able to save fuel and spend less time at sea.

    The UK now has over 350 Marine Protected Areas, covering 220,000 square kilometres – that’s twice the size of England.

    The areas protected include wildlife such as worms, seahorse and oyster.   Sand, tidal mud, rocky reefs and gravel will be protected.  Each as a role to play in the balance of nature. 

    The evidence about the importance of these new sites was gathered by volunteer divers who dive  for Seasearch, a programme co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society.    Divers spent hours diving very diverse seabed habitats to record the marine plants and animals living in our inshore seas.   There were extensive consultations with local fishermen too, and members of the public.

    This citizen science enabled groups such as the Marine Conservation Society to make a case for protecting many of these sites, and they will now be involved in developing management and monitoring plans for these newly protected areas.

    After all, protection must be active if it is to mean anything.  It’s no good allocating a protected status to an area if action isn’t taken to ensure that the area IS protected.

    Bodies such as the Marine Management Organisation and local Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities will have the responsibility of ensuring that the zones are protected, working with local fishing communities and other organisations.

    The UK government has called for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030.  It has co-chaired the creation of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance with Vanuatu. 

    Later this year, the government will publish an international strategy setting out more action to conserve the ocean and use it in a sustainable way.

    Meantime, its next step closer to home is to stop damaging activities in the Marine Protected Zones which affect wildlife.   Beam trawling, dredging for scallops and langoustines are among these – and surely there must be some action to stop some leisure activities, too. 

    But this is a great start, and the fact that citizen scientists (e.g. willing volunteers) and world-class marine scientists have worked together to contribute towards such an outcome is heart-warming.

    Watch this space!

     

  3. Argentina set to get its biggest National Park

    Posted on

    The British Birdwatching Fair takes place every August. 

    Birdfair takes place between 17th and 19th August 2018 in Rutland, the smallest county in the UK.    

    This year, bird lovers in the UK support the creation of largest Argentina’s National Park!

    Let me tell you more.

    The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body.  And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).

    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    ©Pablo Rodriguez Merkel
    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.

    Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.

    So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands.  These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened).  The swampy areas have  Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.


    Absolutely stunning...

    Mar Chiquita has all the credentials but...

    Mar Chiquita is a Ramsar Site, one of Argentina's top Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a provincial reserve so you would have thought that would keep it safe.

    Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case.  It’s in danger. Why?  Well, the human race is at it again.

    • Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
    • The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Above average deforestation rate
    • Unregulated tourism.

    And action is needed urgently.  Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.  

    Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International.  It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.

    Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.

    Creating a national park to keep the area safe

    The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities.  Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province.  And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.

    Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.

    Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.

    And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success.  So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area.  That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.

    This is a Maned Wolf - they are also known as the fox on stilts!
    ©Spencer Wright
    This is a Maned Wolf - also dubbed the Fox on Stilts!  They live on nearby grassland.

    And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.

    The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:

    Raising awareness

    An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected.  It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.

    As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment.  I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there. 

    Raising funds to support the project

    In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’.  The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti.  Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.

    The 2018 project is an ambitious one.   A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism.  And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at? 

    Useful links

    Visit the Birdfair website here.  It's been conserving nature worldwide since 1989.

    Aves Argentinas - I hope you speak Spanish!  But do take a look anyway.  

    BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.

  4. 664,484 acres protected in Bolivia

    Posted on

    There's good news from Bolivia.

    The World Land Trust and Nature and Culture International have jointly funded the creation of Heroes del Chaco Historical and Wildlife Municipal Reserve.

    This is protection a whopping 664,484 acres of Dry Chaco forest in Bolivia!

    The project was given community support, and on the ground, it's Natura Bolivia who run it.   

    World Land Trust says the plains of Gran Chaco extend from the base of hte Andes across Northern Argentina, western Paraguay and south east Bolivia.

    It is ihome to the largest Dry Forest in South America, and has swamps, savannahs, marshes, salt flats and scrubelands.

    It supports about 500 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, 120 species of reptiles and 100 species of amphibians, so it's a very important area for wildlife.  Threats to the area are deforestation, hunting and unsustainable cattle farming.  

    Natura is working with locals in the area to develop a conservation model which works for both wildlife and people in the area.   For instance, the govenrment has given support for conservation incentives.   

    This is very exciting, especially the work to develop conservation models which work for people and wildlife and it will be interesting to see how the project develops.  

    Meantime, it's great to think that over 664,000 acres are being protected. 

     

  5. Celebrating World Wetland Day in Canada....

    Posted on

    The 2 February is World Wetlands Day. It's held on the same day every year.

    And to honour the day, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced that a 593 hectare parcel of land had been donated for use as a conservation area.

    Situated on the north west shore of Gough Lake and known as the Ferrier property, the area is essential for deer, small mammals, grassland birds, shorebirds and waterfowl that live and migrate through the region.

    And a number of species that are considered to be at risk have been discovered in the area, such as the Baird's sparrow and Sprague's pipit.

    The wetlands are valuable as shorebird nesting and staging habitat for waterfowl.  Unfortunately research suggests that 64% of slough and marsh wetlands have disappeared in settled areas of the province. 

    The Ferrier family owned the land since 1904.   Agnes Isabelle Ferrier left the site to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in her will. 

    This property is one of 4 new wetland conservation rojects that were announced on Friday, so this has got to be good news for wildlife needing wetlands.  Find out more about it here.

    In addition to the above news, the Nature Conservancy of Canada bought 160 acres, which had ecologically significent wetland habitat north of Good Spirit Provincial Park, Saskatchewan.  It has a number of species of waterfowl during breeding and migration, and a diversity of other birds and wildlife.  Moose needed the forest and shoreline for shelter and habitat.

    The Nature Conservancy of Canada also conserved a 61-acre island which has a plant rare to Canada and which is listed as threatened under the Canadian Species at Risk Act.  The location is  Lobster Bay, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.  Find out more here

    Conservation volunteers do vital work for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, as the video below shows: