Actions for Animals

 
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

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Category: Wildlife Habitat: Wetlands

  1. Calling all bird lovers! It's World Migratory Bird Day on 9 May 2020

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    On the 9th May 2020 (and 10 October 2020), it’s World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD for short). 

    It’s a global campaign  and it’s dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for countries around the world to co-operate in their efforts to save them.

    This year, the theme is “Birds Connect Our World”.

    It was picked to highlight how important it is to conserve and restore the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems which support the natural cycles that are essential for migratory birds to survive and thrive.

    The day gives us all an opportunity to discover more about migratory birds and be in awe at their amazing feats.

    Migratory birds need networks with stops

    Migratory birds travel far.  They need to be able to stop to rest and feed and breed. If you like, you could liken it as a journey along a motorway system and every so often, they need to stop for a break to fill their tummies and have a break.

    Birds need networks of sites

    They need a network of sites along these routes to breed, to feed, to rest and spend the winter.  They need different sites and habitats, irrelevant of which country they are in. They can cross incredible distances and over impossible terrains such as deserts and open seas.  They cross national borders and soar above any national agenda.  What they do need is for countries to co-operate to ensure their routes are kept open and safe for them. 

     

    Examples of migratory birds’ routes

    The East Asian – Australasian Flyway goes from the Russian Far East and Alaska through East Asia and South-East Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand – 22 countries in all.  The Flyway is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations.   They need a system of wetlands to rest, feed and build up the energy they need for the next part of their journey. 

    Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has an example of swan’s migrating from Slimbridge up to their tundra breeding grounds in the Russian Arctic. 

    RSPB has information about the Arctic tern who travels a rather amazing 22,000 miles a year – the longest migration of all – as they move continually between the Arctic summer and the Antarctic summer.  

    Swifts breed throughout Europe as far north as Lapland and the Arctic Circle, reaching east across Asia to China.

    So you can see how important it is that countries work together to give these birds the flight paths they need, with all the facilities along the way.




    What can be done at a national/international level:

    • Increase action globally via environment treaties such as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Africa-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA).  These are vital to protect migratory birds on their international flight paths.
    • Creating habitat corridors which are protected and which go across boundaries would really help animals who migrate and fly over national boundaries. 
    • Networks of crucial sites which are imperative to migration needs must be safeguarded and managed properly.  Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas as described by BirdLife International give migratory birds all they need during their long flights - necessary feeding, breeding, nesting and sheltering grounds.

    What individuals like you & me can do:

    • Have a bird-friendly garden with safe shelters and a bird bath.  Give them bird food. Put feeders out of reach of cats.   
    • Spread the word about how important it is to protect migratory birds. 
    • Download and use birding apps – it’s a great way to connect to like-minded bird lovers.
    • Find out more about migratory birds.  There are resources on the WMBD website so fly off and nest and rest there a while and peck at all the information you can.

     This day is held twice a year , on 9 May and 10 October so you could prepare an event or attend an October event.

    Visit BirdLife International and the WMBD’s site here

     

     

  2. Please see this video from Gravitas - how nature is reclaiming its spaces due to the Coronavirus

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    Sometimes you see something on the internet or on television that really hits you hard and makes a point extremely well.

    I saw this video, this afternoon, and I wanted to share it with you.  Please share it with everyone you can.

    The ultimate message is that we SHARE this planet.  It demonstrates how dominant the human race has become - and how selfish.   I am not going to tell you anymore about it - please just watch it for yourself.   Here it is:



    Thank you, Gravitas.

    Please vow to make a difference today. 
    Find out how to reduce your impact on the earth's resources here.

     

     

     

     

  3. Help wildlife and people in Columbia

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    MAY 2020:   SUCCESS:   The target has been reached!

    I’m a big fan of the World Land Trust and I always thinking it’s very exciting to see where they are going to work to save land next and follow the appeals.

    The new appeal they have just launched (end February 2020) is in Columbia and here it is:

    Here it is!

    ©World Land Trust

    WLT are working with Fundacion Biodiversa Colombia to save 260ha of lowland forest and wetlands. 

    They need to raise £295,000 to ensure these habitats are safe.  The area has already suffered from extreme deforestation and degradation – a whopping 90% of the original forests have been lost, so it’s vital to protect the remaining 10%.

    Hop over to the World Land Trust's website and help©World Land Trust

    Many endangered species live there, from the American Manatee and Magdalena River Turtle to the Lowland Tapir and Jaguar.  There are a lot of monkeys there – the White-footed Tamarin, the Brown Spider Monkey and the Varied White-fronted Capuchin.

    The World Land Trust works closely with local conservation organisations and it speaks very well of FBC’s track record of conservation.

    Your donation and mine will make a difference.
    If you can't donate, please please spread the word

    Our support will mean that this area is immediately protected – either that, or the logging industry will get it.

    Support land purchase for conservation and help ensure that healthy, biodiverse habitats survive.

     

  4. World Wetlands Day is 2 February

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    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

     

  5. 41 new Marine Conservation Zones expands England’s Blue Belt

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    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!