Wadden Sea Flyway Workshop – Strengthening Management and Research along the African-Eurasian Flyways

Written by AEWA

An international workshop dedicated to strengthening management and research on migratory birds along the African-Eurasian Flyways took place in Wilhelmshaven, Germany from 22 – 23 March 2011.


The two-day workshop was chaired by Dr. Gerard C. Boere, one of AEWA’s founding fathers, and brought together 35 experts from a number of African and European countries as well as Russia and the United States to try to identify ways of improving research and international cooperation between the Wadden Sea and other important sites for migratory birds along the African-Eurasian Flyways.

The Wadden Sea is used by around 12 million waterbirds on their way from their breeding grounds in the tundra of Siberia, Greenland and Northeast Canada to their wintering areas in Western Europe and Africa. While many birds remain in the Wadden Sea for the winter, at least 3.5 million migrate further south to sites along the western coast of Africa, such as Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania and the Bijagos Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau.Within the African-Eurasian Flyway migration system this combination of breeding, staging and wintering areas is known as the East Atlantic Flyway.

The workshop was organized in response to a June 2009 UNESCO World Heritage Committee decision to nominate the Dutch and German parts of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site. The World Heritage Site listing not only stresses the international importance of the Wadden Sea as one of the main breeding, staging, moulting and wintering areas for millions of migratory birds, but also recognizes that the site is part of a chain, or network, of other key sites for migratory birds along the African-Eurasian Flyways.

The World Heritage Committee decision (33 COM 8B.4) also includes a strong request to the States Parties Germany and the Netherlands to “strengthen cooperation on management and research activities with States Parties on the African-Eurasian Flyways, which play a significant role in conserving migratory species along these flyways“.

Germany and the Netherlands are taking this request very seriously and the Flyway Workshop held in Wilhelmshaven was an important initial step towards identifying ways to address and implement the specific request for more flyway cooperation made by the World Heritage Committee” says Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of AEWA, who gave a presentation on behalf of AEWA at the workshop.

While the Wadden Sea is generally a well-protected area and has a very successful joint monitoring programme for birds, the situation in Western Africa and the Arctic is inadequate in terms of the availability of reliable data and monitoring capacity. Hence, workshop participants agreed that there is a need for more sustainable and long-term monitoring programmes and an increase of coordinated capacity building measures along the flyway, particularly in Africa.

Although the recommendations from the workshop are still being finalized, a number of presenters at the workshop emphasized the importance of building on existing structures, such as AEWA and other institutions already engaged in flyway-level activities across the East Atlantic Flyway. For example, several participants highlighted the importance of building on the work which was started under the four-year Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) UNEP-GEF African-Eurasian Flyways Project and is now being picked up by the WOW Flyway Partnership.


The Flyway Workshop in Wilhelmshaven was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EL&I), and was organised by the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS).

The results, conclusions and recommendations of the workshop are currently being collated and the final workshop report including recommendations will be presented to the States Parties of Germany and the Netherlands in early May 2011.

Further Information:
CWSS Website: Flyway Workshop: The Wadden Sea – Strengthening Management and Research along the African Eurasian Flyway, Wilhelmshaven, 22-23 March 2011

WHC Decision 33 Com 8B.4 – Natural properties – New Nominations – The Wadden Sea (Germany, Netherlands) 8B.4 – Natural properties – New Nominations – The Wadden Sea (Germany, Netherlands)


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