Friday, December 5, 2014

To conserve Arctic species, take action in Africa

Jacques Trouvilliez (Executive Secretary of AEWA, the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds) in IPS: So great are the contrasts between the frozen empty expanses of the far north and Africa’s baking deserts, steamy rain forests and savannahs that any direct connections between the two seem far-fetched – if they indeed exist at all.

In fact, migratory birds provide an environmental tie linking the Arctic and Africa and are the reason why the U.N. Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, have entered a commitment to cooperate.

The Arctic Council is holding its first Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway and far from being of marginal interest to AEWA, its deliberations over the fauna inhabiting the regions around the North Pole could hardly be more relevant.

Following publication of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment in May 2013, progress is being made in elaborating a strategy under the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI): a concrete example of where we can collaborate with practical work on the ground.

The habitats could hardly be more different and the distances between them are large, but the waterfowl, shorebird and seabird species – the predominant birds of the Arctic – find the conditions they require at different times of the year in the various habitats of the world.

The birds have adapted to develop the capacity to make their often arduous journeys from their Arctic breeding grounds to wintering sites and back. These wintering sites can be in Europe – but in some cases they even lie as far as in Southern Africa, as is the case for the Red Knot....

A Red Knot, shot by Ron Knight, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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