Nations unite to save endangered birds of prey

 

An international agreement to conserve endangered migratory birds of prey in Europe, Africa and Asia was discussed in October 2007 at an intergovernmental negotiation conference hosted by the UK Government in Scotland. It was attended by experts and government representatives from 60 countries.Delegates at the endangered migratory birds of prey in Europe, Africa and Asia Conference hosted by the UK Government in Scotland, October 2007

 

Eagles, falcons, sparrowhawks, buzzards, red kites and osprey are amongst the 77 birds which could benefit from such a treaty under the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).  As top predators, raptors are sensitive indicators of the condition of the environments they pass through, such as changes in the global climate which can affect wildlife and people.  They play a key role in the ecology of the habitats they use during their migration and without them the ecological character of these habitats would be degraded.  These extraordinary birds are also attractions for tourism ventures along their migratory routes.

 
A variety of human-induced threats are driving declines in migratory birds of prey, such as habitat loss and degradation, collisions with aerial structures and electrocution by power lines.  Climate change is a further concern.

 

UK Climate Change and Biodiversity Minister Joan Ruddock attended the meeting and said:

“There is no doubt these magnificent birds are under serious threat.  Our commitment to their conservation is clear.  The Government has brought together experts from around the world to develop this action plan.  I have pledged an initial £10,000 towards the practical conservation work that an agreement will undertake. 

 

“This agreement would build on current conservation efforts.  In the UK we have had success at re-introducing the red kite in England and Scotland, the sea eagle to Scotland, and are working to extend the range of the osprey.  The agreement would address the future problems that climate change will bring to these migratory birds, and has the potential to contribute to our objective of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.”

 

The aim of such an international action plan is to bring together expertise from around the world to monitor and protect these birds, combat the threats they face, and raise funds for future conservation activity.  The joint actions of countries along the international flyways of raptors are critical for the conservation of these migrants.

 

In 2005, an independent study commissioned by Defra found that more than 50% of the birds likely to be covered by the agreement are rare or endangered.  Some are showing signs of rapid or long-term decline.  It confirmed that an international action plan would benefit the conservation of these birds. 

 

The meeting discussed the geographical boundaries of the agreement, the species to be covered, and the type of treaty – concluding that a Memorandum of Understanding would be an effective option, given that it would be rapidly implemented.

 

The meeting was organised in partnership with: the United Arab Emirates Environment Agency (who will host the final negotiating meeting in October this year); CMS; JNCC; Birdlife International; RSPB; the Scottish Government; SNH and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

 

Further information

For more information about migratory birds of prey and this meeting please see The Convention on Migratory Species and Conserving migratory birds of prey in Africa and Euroasia leaflet.

 

David Stroud

Senior Ornithological Adviser

Tel:  +44 (0) 1733 866810

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