On 29 June 2021, Wetlands International launched the Waterbird Populations Portal (WPP), an online interactive platform containing the most recent data on the status and distribution of the world’s waterbird populations. A well-attended global webinar was organised for the occasion, with contributions from several acclaimed panellists from the conventions and flyway frameworks and Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.
WPP to catalyse conservation action for waterbirds and their habitats
Globally, there are over 870 waterbird species that serve various important ecosystem services and functions, ranging from the majestic Sarus Crane Grus antigone that stands at over 1.5m tall, making it the tallest flying bird inhabiting wetlands in South and South east Asia and Australia, to the White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi, restricted to a few areas in wet grasslands in east and southern Africa, both globally threatened species. Conservation of all these species requires easily accessible information on their status and trends to help governments and people take action.
The open-access Waterbird Populations Portal (WPP) provides the latest size estimates and trends for over 2,500 populations of 870 waterbird species and presents the latest 1% threshold of each population. The 1% threshold has been used to select 867 Ramsar Sites representing over 35% of total sites listed world wide to date (these represent sites that meet Criterion 6 of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands).
The Portal is accessible to national or local authorities for wetland site managers to shortlist relevant populations with their 1% population thresholds, to check against available information and identify potentially internationally or nationally important wetlands. The Portal thus supports governments worldwide to develop and implement management action of wetlands and conserve waterbirds to meet global targets set under the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, related biodiversity-related conventions and flyway agreements and initiatives. Besides formal designations, the Portal offers opportunities to support the identification of Important Bird Areas & Key Biodiversity Areas worldwide. The Portal is widely used by bird and wetland researchers, conservation NGOs, industry and others.
“Wetlands International is very pleased to work with governments, partners and experts around the world to provide the latest information on waterbirds in this newly launched global Waterbird Populations Portal to support management of our wetlands and conservation of these beautiful and important species,” says Jane Madgwick, CEO, Wetlands International.
A global webinar and panel to launch the WPP
The webinar was organised on 29 June 2021 with a lively international panel with representatives from the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), African Eurasian Migratory Bird Agreement (AEWA), East Asian – Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), and Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), representing major users of the new Portal. Also present was the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, that provided generous support for the development of the Portal.
“The new Portal makes access of key waterbird information much easier for management authorities such as the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, and will certainly help us to prioritise sites for consideration as new Ramsar Sites,” stated HE Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, the Secretary of the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi.
“Data on waterbird populations provided through the WPP is crucial to support the 171 Contracting Parties of the Convention in designating Wetlands of International Importance, also known as Ramsar Sites. Effective management of this global network of protected areas that currently includes 2,422 sites is a key commitment under the Convention, and a direct, tangible contribution to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.” Marta Rojas Urrego, Secretary General, Ramsar Secretariat.
Waterbirds worldwide are trying to adapt to ongoing rapid changes in climate as well as transformations to landscapes and habitats driven by human development, the panel and audience called for information in the Portal to be updated on a regular basis and for resources to be effectively allocated towards this. They reiterated the critical need for this information to reflect our latest knowledge on the status and trends of populations so as to continue to support conservation of waterbirds and wetlands and meet needs of diverse data users world wide.
For further information:
Waterbird Populations Portal – www.wpp.wetlands.org