14 Oct 2018 Press release Water

Upward trend for migratory waterbirds

Bonn, 13 October 2018 - Bucking a major general trend, the overall status of waterbird populations listed on the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) has slightly improved and numbers have increased over the last ten years, says a new report.

The findings are being released ahead of World Migratory Bird Day, an annual, UN-backed global awareness-raising and environmental education campaign focused on migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. 

The 7th Edition of the AEWA Conservation Status Review of Migratory Waterbirds in the Agreement Area (CSR7) provides a long-term view of the changing status of migratory waterbird populations listed under AEWA.

The upward trend assessed in the report is due to targeted conservation measures along the birds’ migration routes across countries and even continents. AEWA Member States have been implementing special action plans for the most threatened bird species to reduce key threats to their long-term survival.

The Agreement protects nearly half a billion waterbirds and seabirds across the African-Eurasian Flyway.

AEWA Executive Secretary Jacques Trouvilliez said: “AEWA is one of the few examples of an environmental treaty which can record a clear conservation success. The report shows that the overall status of migratory waterbirds in Africa and Eurasia is actually improving instead of getting worse. Flyways are the pertinent scale to implement coordinated actions between breeding and wintering areas. Thanks to all Parties to AEWA which collaborate through specific actions plans or thematic issues.”

Currently more than 60 per cent of populations of the species covered by AEWA are stable or increasing. Pelicans, cormorants, avocets and stilts, flamingos and storks are the waterbird families with the highest proportion of increasing populations.  However, crane and auk numbers are in strong decline. And the highest proportion of populations on the Endangered UICN Red List are in Eastern and Southern Africa.

While AEWA could succeed in helping waterbirds recover, some birds that used to be widespread are getting increasingly threatened. Farmland birds and seabirds face major risks. Habitat loss and intensive agricultural practices are affecting farmland species. Pollution including oil spills, contaminants, incidental capture in fishing gear and habitat destruction are seriously affecting seabirds

The report recommends integrating bird conservation into a wide range of other land use policies. In the EU, action plans to preserve species and their habitats in agriculture and fisheries policies are efforts in this direction. 

World Migratory Bird Day is celebrated each year to highlight the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. More than 650 events in more than 70 countries to mark World Migratory Bird Day 2018 (registered on the website) will include bird festivals, education programmes, media events, bird watching trips, presentations, film screenings and a benefit concert in Bologna to raise funds for international nature conservation.


About the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or the “Bonn Convention” after the city in which it was signed) aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.

About the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds that migrate along the African-Eurasian Flyway. The Agreement covers 254 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle.

About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

For more information please contact:

Florian Keil, Coordinator UNEP/CMS and AEWA Secretariats Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152451
Veronika Lenarz, Public Information, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Tel: +49 (0) 228 8152409, [email protected]