Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI)

In 2009 UNESCO placed the Dutch-German Wadden Sea on the World Heritage List recognizing the crucial importance of the site for the survival of migratory birds on a global scale. Both countries have now an enhanced responsibility to strengthen cooperation with other countries for the conservation of migratory birds, especially along the East Atlantic Flyway.
In 2012 the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) launched two projects with focus on monitoring and capacity building in close cooperation with the Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project. Since then several courses on capacity building and monitoring in West Africa have been already realised. Please find more products and information on activities of the WSFI below.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI)

The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a vast coastal wetland comprising tidal flats, islands, salt marshes and other habitats, stretching over 450 km along the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. At almost 10.000 square kilometres in extent, it is one of the largest wetlands in the world. It has enjoyed a protected status for more than 20 years and is jointly managed by the Trilateral Cooperation for the Protection of the Wadden Sea.

The Coast of West Africa

The coastal zone of West Africa supports some of the highest concentrations of migratory birds in the world, and is therefore a priority zone for the conservation of migratory birds. A large proportion of these birds depend on a network of critical sites along the flyway to enable them to complete their migrations successfully. Some of the most important sites for migrants are found in West Africa between Mauritania and Sierra Leone, where there is a high level of marine productivity. Many migratory bird species are sharply declining and becoming increasingly threatened with extinction. Currently 12% of all migratory bird species are considered globally threatened or near-threatened.

Birds in the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is of outstanding international importance for birds as a staging, moulting and wintering area, especially for migratory waders. According to the Ramsar Convention the Wadden Sea is essential for the existence of at least 52 populations of 41 migratory waterbird species that use the East Atlantic flyway and which originate from breeding populations as far away as northern Siberia and Northeast Canada. Only in the Wadden Sea they will find enough food to complete their journeys of thousands of kilometres.

Every year more than 6.1 million birds may be present in the Wadden Sea at the same time, whilst on average 10 to 12 million birds use the Wadden Sea each year on migration between their northern breeding grounds and their wintering areas in Europe, Africa and even further afield.

Global responsibility

In 2009 UNESCO placed the Dutch-German Wadden Sea on the World Heritage List recognizing the crucial importance of the site for the survival of migratory birds on a global scale. Both countries have now an enhanced responsibility to strengthen cooperation with other countries for the conservation of migratory birds, especially along the East Atlantic Flyway.

Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative has thus been launched to put this into action. In the first instance, two projects have been developed under the initiative that together aim to increase capacity for migratory bird conservation and monitoring along the western seaboard of Africa. The projects, which run from 2012 - 2014, are funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The aims of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative are to support the conservation of migratory waterbirds in the region, to obtain more detailed monitoring data and to develop a long-term perspective for the cooperation of the Wadden Sea with countries along the whole flyway.

Collaboration with BirdLife, Wetlands International and AEWA

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative is working in close collaboration with other migratory bird conservation projects and initiatives in West Africa, notably the BirdLife Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project of BirdLife Intenational funded by MAVA Foundation, implemented in collaboration with Wetlands International  and other partners and The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). For the future the Initiative aims for sustain- able cooperation with partners and international projects along the whole East Atlantic Flyway by further enhancing and integrating the flyway perspective into the work plan of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative is working in close collaboration with other migratory bird conservation projects and initiatives in West Africa, notably the BirdLife Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project funded by MAVA Foundation, implemented in collaboration with Wetlands International  and other partners and The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). For the future the Initiative aims for sustainable cooperation with partners and international projects along the whole East Atlantic Flyway by further enhancing and integrating the flyway perspective into the work plan of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation.

Two projects and key partnerships already underway!

Capacity Building — Several national capacity building courses and a regional flyway workshop will be organized in close connection to the development of a capacity building concept for the East Atlantic Flyway. There will also be awareness activities and small-scale flyway management initiatives. A framework for future cooperation with partners along the flyway will allow further activities after the project’s end in early 2014.

Monitoring — Within a framework for integrated flyway monitoring along the East Atlantic Flyway, a regional monitoring strategy for Western Africa will be developed. Practical pilot activities with bird counts and training in monitoring will give input for the de- velopment of a strategy to gain a sustainable and cost-effective monitoring system along the flyway in future. A simultaneous total count of all key sites organized by the local partners in West Africa will be carried out in January 2014.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative has already met with national and regional agencies in West Africa in order to develop strong partnerships, including partners engaged in the Conservation of Mi- gratory Birds (CMB) project of BirdLife International and Wetlands International. The close collaboration with the CMB project and other important partners will improve future cooperation and the vision of a joint management of the East Atlantic Flyway.

Photos: Barend van Gemerden

Vision Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative

Vision Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative

Objective

The aim of the flyway vision is to guide the implementation of the request of the World Heritage Committee at the inscription of the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site in 2009 to 'the States Parties of 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.'

The vision should thus:

  • strengthen cooperation across the flyway on the conservation, management and research of migratory birds depend on the Wadden Sea;
  • be ecologically sound, cost effective and feasible;
  • have full endorsement of the Trilateral Wadden Sea cooperation, other flyway states and relevant stakeholder.

The vision shall be adopted at the 12th Trilateral Governmental Wadden Sea Conference in 2014 together with a formal endorsement by other relevant partners in conjunction with a framework of cooperation and plan of action for its implementation. The Plan of Action (a rolling document) will subsequently take account of the results and outcomes of current and planned activities within the flyways for which the Wadden Sea plays a major role, especially activities of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI).

Introduction

The International Wadden Sea of The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark is of outstanding universal value for global biodiversity, especially for migratory birds. Yearly millions of migratory waterbirds stop over in the area to build up energy for their onward journeys between the Arctic and Africa. They depend on the presence of suitable safe breeding, resting and non-breeding sites. International cooperation and coordination are mandatory to provide the right conditions for them along their flyway.

The State Parties of the Wadden Sea World Heritage will mutually support, advance and communicate a sustainable and long-term management of the East Atlantic Flyway to improve the living conditions for migratory birds together with partners along the flyway on an equal and shared basis. This engagement will stimulate cooperation among other flyways for migratory bird conservation. Coming generations will thus continue to enjoy and admire the Wadden Sea World Heritage site when it is occupied by millions of birds, whilst such an appreciation will be fostered elsewhere along the flyway, connecting people and reminding us of our global shared responsibility to conserve migratory species.

Vision

Migratory birds find lasting refuge along the East Atlantic Flyway from northern breeding areas to their key Wadden Sea stopover and to the African coastline, and inspire and connect people for future generations.

Annotation

In human societies across the world - even far back in history - migrating birds have played an important role in the perception of nature. People recognise the periodic coming and going of birds and are in awe of their incredible feats of endurance. In the African-Eurasian region millions of migrating birds fly long distances between their breeding and non-breeding grounds, for instance between the Arctic and Southern Africa, or Central Siberia and Western Europe. Migratory birds are ambassadors connecting countries and people, ignoring our own political and social barriers. Flyways encompass the whole life cycle of migratory birds and include essential sites for breeding, resting, moulting and feeding. This requires conservation and management to take place at the flyway scale, recognising the ecological connectivity between critical sites along the flyway.

Every year, the Wadden Sea in Northern Europe serves as a central hub and cross-over point for some 10-12 million migrating waterbirds of the East Atlantic Flyway, moving between the Arctic and Africa. At this critical stop-over in their long voyage, many bird species, often in huge flocks, refuel on the tidal flats and shallow waters of the Wadden Sea, forming a lively and magical spectacle. The presence of these migratory waterbirds attracts many visitors to the area, bringing significant economic and cultural benefits.

For more than 25 years the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation has been active in promoting wise use management of the Wadden Sea and migratory birds benefit from the implementation of nature protection targets and plans of the Trilateral Cooperation. However, nearly half of the trilaterally monitored migratory bird species in the Wadden Sea have declining trends in numbers. Factors threatening protection and conservation efforts can be found within the Wadden Sea itself and along the flyway. Thus there is a permanent risk of the Wadden Sea losing vital parts of its ecology, character, attraction and economic and cultural value.

In 2009 UNESCO acknowledged the protection efforts of the Trilateral Cooperation and the significance of the Wadden Sea for migratory waterbirds on the African-Eurasian flyways by inscribing the Dutch and German Wadden Sea on the World Heritage list. The Danish Wadden Sea applies for World Heritage status in 2014. According to the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value adopted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, the Wadden Sea '… is a key site for migratory birds and its ecosystems sustain wildlife populations well beyond its borders.' (criterion ix).The statement continues with 'The clearest indicator of the importance of the property is the support it provides to migratory birds as a staging, moulting and wintering area. Up to 6.1 million birds can be present at the same time, and an average of 10-12 million each year pass through the property. The availability of food and a low level of disturbance are essential factors that contribute to the key role of the nominated property in supporting the survival of migratory species. The nominated property is the essential stopover that enables the functioning of the East Atlantic and African-Eurasian migratory flyways. Biodiversity on a world wide scale is reliant on the Wadden Sea'. (criterion x)

This trilateral joint flyway conservation vision has been drawn up to interpret and fulfil the UNESCO request. It will form part of the trilateral policy and should subsequently be extended within the Wadden Sea Plan. As flyways span continents and countries, all potential partners along the flyway will be invited to share and join the vision.

The recognition that international cooperation between countries along the flyways is essential has already led to the creation of a number of international environmental treaties/instruments, of which the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement

(AEWA) developed under the framework of the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) is the most relevant for the WSFI. AEWA’s geographic range includes the whole East Atlantic Flyway, whilst the trilateral Wadden Sea state parties are also Contracting Parties to AEWA.

The flyway vision foresees effective implementation of the UNESCO request in terms of future cooperation, communication, coordination, management and implementation strategies through, focused activities guided by a framework of cooperation and a plan of action.

The vision draws on and is guided by the following elements:

  • The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation is aware of its global responsibility to protect and manage migratory waterbirds on a flyway level. The World Heritage designation has highlighted the need for flyway conservation at the global level both within the African-Eurasian Flyways and elsewhere.
     
  • The Wadden Sea plays its most significant ecological role within the East Atlantic Flyway, which embraces the western coastlines of Africa and Europe to the Arctic. This flyway has therefore been identified as the primary focal region of the WSFI, bringing maximum conservation impact for Wadden Sea waterbirds from coordinated action. Close contacts with other flyways for information and experience exchange will be encouraged and maintained.
     
  • An efficient network of World Heritage sites working actively together including the Wadden Sea, Doñana National Park, Banc d´Arguin and Arquipelago dos Bijagòs will strengthen the World Heritage approach and stimulate these sites to maintain their value as essential elements within the entire flyway.
     
  • In close cooperation with the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement, the Wetlands Convention (Ramsar), the Convention on Migratory Species and other relevant instruments the vision will encourage implementation of internationally agreed migratory bird conservation objectives and activities.
  • Close and practical cooperation and communication between governments, science, civil society and NGOs is crucial for flyway conservation. Communication, joint conservation and research and, awareness-raising, especially of the economic values of flyways, stand to promote effective flyway conservation.
     
  • The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative will integrate all trilateral flyway projects and activities under the coordination of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat. The Initiative will play an important role within global flyway conservation frameworks.

The Wadden Sea countries share migratory birds with countries along the East Atlantic Flyway. Although the Trilateral Cooperation will focus on the conservation of Wadden Sea birds outside the Cooperation Area, it will have wider benefits by also improving the management and conservation of other bird species and critical sites.

Songor Lagoon, Ghana: World Migratory Bird Day Celebration, 10 May 2014

The global theme for the celebration in 2014 is “Destination Flyways – Migratory Birds and Tourism”. The theme focuses on the role sustainable tourism can play in conserving one of the world’s true natural wonders, the spectacular movements of migratory birds along their flyways. In the long term, awareness will be created in communities that receive these birds during the migratory journey.

The event was celebrated on 10th May 2014, in two small but highly populated coastal communities (Pute and Totope), located on the narrow sandy strip between the lagoon and the sea. The communities are located in the core zone of the Ramsar site, a significantly important ecosystem type that receive about a third of the migratory bird population that visit the site. Songor is located between latitudes 06° 00’25’’N and 00° 19’E and 05°45’30’’N, 00° 41’40’’ E, and occupies an area of 51, 133.3 hectares.

Part of the core area that receive significant species of migratory birds during the wintering period

Though on recess, the kids numbering over 80 came to observe the day to support bird conservation effort. They were involved in cleanup activities between the beach and the lagoon. Tourism thrives in clean and sustainably green environment, while birds visit less polluted sites - this set the tone for the cleanup in the morning that lasted over one and half hours.  

Briefing before and during the cleanup activities

The kids then visited the lagoon site to observe the few birds that were feeding. They were taken through step by step in bird identification, data collection and organization, management intervention in bird conservation and the need for their involvement as important stakeholders no matter how young they were. We called them the ‘’second eye’’ of conservation. 

They all had a hand on demonstration of the identification equipment. All of them were able to tell the color and local names of the birds they saw by using the telescope and the binoculars.

The kids were refreshed afterwards and promised not to kill or trap migratory or residents birds. The local media was present to cover the program.They were however disappointed that there were only few birds during the date set for the celebration. They suggested that, if could be done during the peak bird season to make the event practical and exciting.

The program was supported by Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative and the Wildlife Division of The Forestry commission. Special thanks to Assemblyman of Pute and the community volunteer at Totope who jointly organized the kids for the program and also Radio Ada, the parents of the kids who provided logistics for the cleanup.

Keta Lagoon, Ghana: World Migratory Bird Day Celebration, 10 May 2014

World Migratory Bird Day celebration held at Afeadenyigba in the Keta Lagoon complex Ramsar site, Ghana on Saturday 10th of May 2014

Introduction
This year’s World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was marked at Afeadenyigba, a community in Ghana’s Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site on 10th May 2014. The global theme for this year’s celebration was “Destination Flyways: Migratory birds and Tourism” which highlighted the link between bird conservation, local community development and wildlife-watching tourism around the world.
The celebration was funded from a grant, kind courtesy of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) and supported by the Wildlife Division of Ghana Forestry Commission. The event started at 6.00am and ended at 12.45pm.

Participants
Thirty six (36) participants joined and participated in the celebration of the day’s events. They included Nana Kofi Adu Nsiah (Executive Director of Wildlife Division of Ghana Forestry Commission), Richard Agorkpa (Executive Director of Friends of Ramsar Sites), Louis Agbey (Executive Director of LOCEK, an environmental NGO based in Tema), Mr C.C. Amankwa (Ramsar focal person) and selected members of Environmental Clubs, a local environmental organization which works with children to appreciate the benefits of a clean environment.

Speeches

 Speeches were read by Abdul-Kareem Fuseini (Welcome Address), Nana Kofi Adu Nsiah, Richard Agorkpa and C.C. Amankwa.

Activities

  1. The day was preceded by a series of Radio announcements on two local radio stations (Hogbe and Jubilee FM Stations) and sensitization of the public on the significance of the event.
  2. Press release by the Wildlife Division in Accra on the Migratory Bird Day celebration at Keta.
  3. On the day of the event, participants were taken through a lecture on the following topics - identifying birds, importance of birds to man, seasons and migrations, flyways ,traditional uses of birds, traditional beliefs and stories about birds, bird harvesting methods and its effect on bird populations, role of the youth in the conservation of birds.

Bird walk: A bird walk was organized from Havedzi to Afeadenyigba, a distance of about 3km. Participants especially the youth were taught:
i) how to use binoculars to view birds;
ii) bird identification and counting.

Closing: The day’s event finally ended at 12.45pm with a commitment from the youth to throw away all their catapults used in hunting and never again kill birds.

Refreshment: All participants were refreshed after the event.

Participant List

Wildlife Division

  1. Nana Kofi Adu-Nsiah – Executive Director of Wildlife Division of Ghana Forestry Commission
  2. Charles Amankwa- Ramsar Focal person
  3. Abdul-Kareem Fuseini – Manager, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  4. Cornelia Danso – Wildlife Officer, Tourism Development Unit, Accra
  5. Donkor Iddrissu- Wildlife Protection Officer, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  6. Seth Agbanyo – Technical Assistant, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  7. Christopher Matsakawo - Technical Assistant, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  8. Francis Tsitsikla – Wildlife Guard, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  9. Hope Avuletey – Wildlife Guard, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site
  10. Okyere Samuel- Driver, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site
  11. Sylvester- Driver, Wildlife Division Headquarters, Accra

Friends of Ramsar Sites

  1. Agorkpa Richard, Executive Director
  2. Laud Kwame
  3. Moses Senaki
  4. Patrick Sadey
  5. Wisdom Sosu

Living On Concerned Environmental Knowledge (LOCEK), environmental NGO

  1. Louis Agbey – Executive Director
  2. Rev Agbeko – Director

Hogbe FM Station

  1. Patrick DZRAMADO- News reporter
  2.  Jane Quarshie- photographer

Environmental Clubs

Members who participated were from four (4) surrounding communities. They are as follows:

  1. Elikplim Tsitsikla
  2. Elikplim Agblosu
  3. Venunye Sowu
  4. Patience Kporgbe
  5. Bienvenu Dzawudo
  6. Promise Zigah
  7. Irene Kuvor
  8. Simon Kuivi
  9. Bless Wedzi
  10.  Godsway Kportufe
  11.  Prudence Kwame
  12.  Mary Logosu
  13.  Passion Wormegah
  14.  Phedelia Agblor
  15.  Jemima Ahedor
  16.  Grace Amable

Report by: Abdul-Kareem Fuseini
Manager, Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar site

Visit Keta Lagoon by map.

Luanda, Angola: Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the flyway approach, 27-31 January 2014

Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the flyway approach to the conservation and wise use of waterbirds and wetlands, and awareness-raising for flyway conservation

Report by the lead trainer (Paulo Catry)

Introduction  The present report concerns the international “Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the flyway approach to the conservation and wise use of waterbirds and wetlands, and awareness raising for flyway conservation”. The workshop, a joint initiative of the African-Eurasian  Migratory Waterbird Agreement and the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) project of the  CWSS, took place in Luanda in 27-31 January 2014. It was attended by participants from all five  Portuguese-speaking African countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and  São Tomé e Principe. Each country was represented by two participants, except for Angola,  which had participants from 4 provinces, in a total of 15 people. The lead trainer (Paulo Catry)  was assisted by Joãozinho Sá (from Guinea-Bissau), Tim Dodman (WSFI) and Evelyn Moloko  (AEWA Secretariat).

Training course evaluation
The training course developed with no major difficulties and was overall very successful. The  results of the final evaluation exercise can be observed in Fig. 1. The global evaluation was  rated with maximum grade (3-point scale) by 22 participants and with intermediate grade by 3  participants.
The workshop was successful in gathering a number of people with responsibilities at the governmental level in various countries (including Ramsar focal points and people linked to several ministries of environment in different countries). The workshop likely made a decisive contribution to raise awareness amongst those people and facilitate the future implementation of international agreements such as the AEWA. It also contributed decisively, we believe, to build/consolidate national and international networks which will play a role in migratory bird and wetland conservation in Portuguese-speaking African countries.
The main difficulties pointed out in the final discussion concerned the location selected for the workshop. In fact the workshop took place in a hotel in Viana, in peripheral Luanda (about 17 km from the centre), resulting in difficulty of access by nationals (traffic in Luanda is chaotic) and in the impossibility of visitors to go and enjoy the city life of central Luanda after workshop times. Furthermore, and despite the general good conditions presented by the hotel, there were some difficulties in internet access during a couple of days, which frustrated participants wanting to keep up-to date with their emails. It must be noted, however, that the choice of this site resulted from a careful evaluation of available alternatives. Using a hotel closer to the centre of Luanda would have proved too expensive for the available budget; Luanda is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
One complication affecting the course was the retention by the Angolan customs of materials (binoculars, field guides, certificates of participation) sent from Europe to Luanda. These should have been available during the workshop. Bureaucracy in Angola is heavy, and when one is constrained by a series of events and factors to organise a workshop in little time, such mishaps may easily take place. Nevertheless, thanks to a diversity of materials brought by the trainers and some participants, there were just enough guides, binoculars and telescopes to make the fieldtrip a worthwhile one.
Although the focus of the training was not on ornithology, but on flyway level conservation, it was nonetheless noteworthy that the previous ornithological knowledge of most participants was virtually nil. For example, participants did not know how to correctly identify cattle and little egrets, two species extremely common in Africa. Only one participant (from Cape Verde) regularly worked in bird research (but his principal knowledge was of a single species, Fea’s petrel). It is apparent that most of the Portuguese speaking African countries have virtually no national ornithologists (and none was presented as a candidate to participate in the workshop). This clearly limits the capacity of participants to deliver future training along the lines of the course. However, most participants should be able to build awareness about the importance of conserving migratory waterbirds and the sites on which they depend, and should be encouraged to do so.

Recommendations

  1. The participants of the Luanda workshop clearly enjoyed the opportunity to travel and share experiences with others from different Portuguese-speaking countries, and international training events in Portuguese hardly ever occur; this may have future long-term benefits in strengthening communication between these countries, especially in the framework of putting AEWA into practice. However, pooling people from countries with very different realities in a common workshop is not the best strategy for effective training in monitoring and conservation, as the needs in insular countries (Cape Verde and São Tomé e Principe) are very different from the ones in countries such as Angola or Mozambique. Furthermore, the degree of previous knowledge and expertise is far more advanced in some countries (e.g. Guinea-Bissau) than in others. Thus, a logical follow-on step to the regional training course is the organizing of national training workshops in each country, to achieve a more focused training adjusted to national needs, presumably attended by most of the relevant people in need of this type of capacity building. It would be excellent if the organizers worked with each country to promote the organization of such follow-on training and to identify means to finance them.
  2. The participants underlined the advantage of having this type of training course delivered in Portuguese, rather than in a foreign language. They stressed that often training courses are delivered in other languages, which makes it difficult for them to easily follow the technical subjects being delivered and often prevents them from contributing comments, asking questions, etc. More training courses in Portuguese are desirable.
  3. The participants also underscored the importance of having access to binoculars, telescopes, field guides and other technical literature (in Portuguese). The WSFI is currently producing a field guide in several languages (including Portuguese) that will be of great value and will help filling this gap. It is important that every effort is made to make sure that enough field guides reach relevant personnel, including not only the officials in the cities, but for example staff in national parks, NGOs, etc. Providing more binoculars to people engaged in field activities would also seem a major priority. There are relatively cheap binoculars available in the market and more should be sent to different countries. Supplying 2-3 pairs of binoculars per country, although useful, contributes little to satisfy the needs that are acutely felt at the present moment.
  4. From the working sessions and debates we had concerning the conservation of waterbirds in the 5 countries covered in this workshop, it became clear that very little is being done with practical positive impact on the ground. There is a general lack of functional protected areas in these countries (Guinea-Bissau is, to some extent, an exception), and habitat degradation and direct persecution and disturbance of sensitive sites are common, with a tendency for conditions to worsen. The situation of protected areas in Angola seems to be particularly dire, although there probably are still plenty of wetlands with relevant ornithological values worth preserving. There is an urgent need to develop conservation initiatives with well-defined and realistic targets (preferably linked to protected areas) that can deliver positive outcomes and serve as an example for more widespread action.

The report of the training course can be downloaded here.

Tissana, Sierra Leone: Community waterbird training workshop, 9-11 January 2014

Five communities in the Satia section of Yawri were trained in water bird identification, habitat monitoring and the use of equipment like binocular, telescope and field guide. 18 people were registered for the training from the five villages from 9 -10 January 2014. The training was hosted by the Tissana village community center which was not far from the wetland site.

Attendents of the workshop Community people involved

During the opening day of the programme, a prayer was offered in the Islamic and Christian way. After that, the coordinator of the programme, Mr. Papanie Bai-Sesay, explained the purpose of the training and why the flyways and habitats of the migratory birds need to be protected and how it is going to benefit the communities along these areas. He told the participants that people are desperate to know how these birds feed, where they go, where they breed and how they are protected in different parts along the flyway.

Town Chief Osman Kamara welcomes
the training course
Mud flat near Tissana
 

Each year in January Wetland International, WaddenSea Flyway Initiative and Birdlife International are supporting countries along the flyway to carry out waterbird monitoring to get trends of birds visiting each country and also monitoring the threat level at each site. He highlighted the benefit to the community people if these birds and their habitat are protected. Questions were asked if they will form a conservation group and the answer was positive. Protecting migratory birds is a shared responsibility to all partners including communities like this. Some of the benefits are, if the site is well managed:

  • Many people will be visiting these communities because of the birds.
  • Their local products will generate good income for them.
  • Their communities will open to development.
  • Investors will build hotels, motel, big business etc
  • Employment for the young people etc

The community people were happy to hear these benefits and they thanked the coordinator for these insight and opportunities they will get, if they stop killing birds, collecting eggs of birds and helping in protecting the habitats of the birds. He admonishes them to take example of the No. 2 River community, which is a community based tourism center. He also told them that No. 2 River is one of the best tourism centers around Freetown that is managed by local community. He urged them not to destroy the habitats of the birds, but to see birds as their friends.
Mr Kamara, the Town Chief of Tissana expressed his view on the whole project and thanked the coordinator for his great interest in their communities. He also said the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone should not forget the community, because they did not have any idea on tourism and conservation of birds and the importannce of birds to people in the community. He also expressed interest for future workshop on a broader way by involving more community people on different topics on migratory bird’s conservation, to increase their knowledge on birds and their importance. Most people in these communities like to be part of this training, but because of limited funds, they were able to train just 18 people.

Training on the use of site and bird form

He thanked the programme coordinator and appreciation for the intervention of CSSL, the Wadden Sea and everybody who came with the coordinator. The community elders and youths appreciated the training and expected that this is an opportunity for them to be involved in bird conservation and hence create job opportunities for their youths. They are expecting CSSL to continue with the project, which will help to expose their site to the international world of conservation. They are expecting more coordination and collaboration with the CSSL in project development and implementation.

The participants were trained on birds identification, water bird monitoring and how to use basic equipment for bird watching like binocular, telescope and field guide.

After Lunch the biodiversity officer told the community about benefit of keeping the habitats of birds healthy and admonish them to keep to their promise and CSSL will try to develop some proposals that will keep them moving.

The beneficiary said they will take these ideas to the communities they came from and will explain the importance of birds and their habitats.

The facilitator Mr Momoh B Sesay took participants to field work, and they were able to identify different types of water birds. The species they identified were: Whimbrel, Common sand piper, Intermediate egret, Western reef egret, Pink-back pelican, Common ringed plover, Secred ibis, Gray plover, Eurasian Curlew and Little Stint. The attendents were also trained how to fill in the bird form, Wetland forms and Birdlife form at the end of every field work. Participants were divided into groups and members in each group keep changing to create a friendly working environment to all participants.

Training on the use of binucular, telescope and field guide

Eight of the participants together with the counting team were asked to count the Satia section of the Yawri Bay during the 2014 simultaneous water bird count. Three out of the eight prove to be very good in identifying the birds. The expert from the United Kingdom advised us to continue the community involvement especially these guys in water bird monitoring and other activities relating to birds at site level.

WSFI activity reports 2012-2013

Reports can also be obtained in the download section.

WSFI activity report on the monitoring project 2013


Photo: Lars Maltha Rasmussen

This work was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs through the Programme Towards a  Rich and Healthy Wadden Sea Ecosystem.  Within the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI), the monitoring project has been carried out in close cooperation with the project on capacity building (as coordinated by Tim Dodman). Both projects are steered and advised by ehe WSFI Steering Group and WSFI Advisory Board under the coordination of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS). Close cooperation existed with the Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project as coordinated by Birdlife International and the International Waterbird Census (IWC) as coordinated by Wetlands International.  

The overall project consists of four outputs;  progress in 2013 towards targets are presented below:

Output 1. An integrated Monitoring Framework for the East Atlantic Flyway.
This consists of a plan for the organizing of integrated monitoring in the whole coastal part of the East-Atlantic Flyway. Covering the regions Arctic, NW-Europe, West Africa and Southern Africa by using abundance, vital rate and environmental monitoring.  

  • After the preparing of a consultation draft in 2012, comments of the ad-hoc expert group and the WSFI Advisory Board have been collected and integrated in the document (download). The document will now be printed in 2014.

Output 2. A strategy and guidelines for waterbird monitoring in West Africa.
This consists of a plan for the monitoring of coastal sites at the Atlantic seaboard of West Africa with emphasize to the countries Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinee-Bissau, Guinee and Sierra Leone. Here are the most important wintering grounds for populations from the Wadden Sea. Secondly it consist of guidelines for national coordinators, site coordinators and observers in best practices in waterbird monitoring. Thirdly part of this output is the making of so called site protocols, detailed accounts of the best way to carry out total counts at complex key-sites. These documents are as such an implementation of several recommendations from the overall flyway plan (output 1). The focus in West Africa is first on abundance and environmental monitoring.

  • After the preparing of a consultation draft of the monitoring strategy in 2012, comments of the participants of the Dakar 2012 meeting and of the WSFI Advisory Board have been collected and integrated in the document (download). The document is after that, integrated with the monitoring guidelines for the region (see below) and will be printed in 2014.  
  • In 2013 it was decided to integrate the monitoring guidelines, as drafted in 2012, with the monitoring strategy document. The monitoring guidelines itself have been updated in 2013 on the basis of the experiences with the counts in January 2013. It was not possible anymore to have the combined document printed before the January 2014 counts. Instead detailed instructions were provided to each counting team. After including experiences from the January 2014 count, the combined document will be printed in 2014.
  • The site protocols as drafted in 2012 were expanded on the basis of the January 2013 experiences. They will be finalized in 2014 on the basis of the January 2014 experiences and becoming available as pdf files.
  • All winter counts of non-breeding waterbirds of coastal sites in West-Africa will be (as far as possible) included in the IWC database. A part of these counts are already available in this database but several others need to be added. In 2013 a contract was given to the University of Dakar (UNCAD) under which older count data have been entered into a uniform database and site- and counting unit boundaries digitized. This information will be handed over to Wetlands International for inclusion in the IWC database.

Output 3. Pilot counts in West Africa
Within the three year project period 2012-2014, it is aimed to carry out pilot counts at a selection of sites in January 2013 and at as many sites as possible in January 2014.

  • In January 2013 counts have been carried out successfully in all seven West African countries. In each country several sites have been counted. The results were reported in the first half of 2013. The data have been send to WI and incorporated in the IWC database.
  • In April 2013 a meeting of CMB in Guinee was visited with additional financial support from WI and BirdLife. Feedback on the results of January 2013 was given and further training of monitoring methods provided.
  • During 2013 preparatory work for the total count of January 2014 was carried out, including:
    -  Asking and guiding the West African countries to make a proposal (including budget) for the count.
    -  Recruiting and instructing foreign experts for participation in the counts.
    -  Finding extra funding for the counts, both to improve the quality in West Africa and enlarge the counts to countries further to the south along the Atlantic coast (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon). This succeeded with extra funding from Webs, UK , Ministry of Environment Niedersachsen, National Park Wadden Sea Niedersachsen  and National Park Wadden Sea Denmark, World Wide Fund the Netherlands. This on top of the funding available from PRW and CMB.
    -  Counts have also been carried out in Liberia, Congo and Angola as part of a training program as organized by the capacity building project of the WSFI and in Namibia and South Africa as part of their normal activities for the IWC.
    -  Providing all countries with instructions about sites, counting units, counting forms, forms for IBA monitoring etc.
    -  Providing extra information about the counts to the countries and the outside world (see appendix 1).In December 2013 a meeting of AEWA and a regional training workshop of the capacity building project of the WSFI was visited in Dakar and Djoudj, Senegal.
  • Several presentations were given and meetings were carried out with national coordinators for the counts in January 2014. Especially the contacts with southern countries for the involvement in the total count 2014 was important.  

Output 4. Investigating future prospects for continuation of the monitoring in West Africa after 2014 and implementation of the integrated monitoring framework for the East Atlantic Flyway.

  • In 2013 support was given for preparing the Flyway Vision which was accepted at the Trilateral Governmental Conference in February 2014 by 16 parties and work was done for the subsequent Plan of Action 2014-2020


 


WSFI activity report on the capacity building project (January - June 2013)

Introduction
The project International Co-operation for the Protection of Waterbirds along their Flyways, which aims at intensifying co-operation for the protection of waterbirds along the African-Eurasian Flyway, started in January 2012, following on from planning meetings and development during 2011. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment & Nature Conservation (BMU).
The main events in the first half of 2013 were two national training courses, in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, whilst plans were set in place for a photographic field guide for the East Atlantic Flyway in Africa to cover the main waterbirds, as well as introducing coastal wetlands and migration.

Project Activities

Phase 1: Development of concepts and specifications

  • Development of a framework of co-operation in the areas of management and research along the African-Eurasian Flyway

The Task Group World Heritage approved the flyway vision and agreed that it should be developed into a specific draft agreement/ MoU to be signed by the relevant partners to support the continuation of the flyway initiative at a side event at the Tønder Conference. The next stage is the development of an action plan for the implementation of the flyway vision, after which attention will be given to developing the framework of co-operation, which will serve as the practical tomeans for delivery of the the action plan. These steps will receive attention in July-September 2013.  

  • Development of a capacity-building concept for the East Atlantic Flyway

Two national training courses were delivered in January 2013 (see below). The evaluation of these courses is guiding development of the capacity-building concept, whilst WSFI is awaiting a first draft of an agreed new training package focused on wetland management for migratory birds, being developed by West African consultants in partnership with CMB and Wetlands International Africa.

  • Establishment of a supporting project advisory group

The next meeting is planned for September 2013.

Phase 2: Organisation and implementation planning

  • Project inception meeting

Carried out in 2012.

  • Selection of a defined project area

Carried out in 2012 for project. The area to be covered by the waterbird guide was discussed / decided, with work divisions proposed accordingly.

  • Identification of potential target groups and planning for implementation of capacity-building activities

This is an ongoing activity supporting the planning and delivery of capacity-building. Community representatives participated in both courses in January 2013, whilst an exchange was built into the course in Sierra Leone, with the participation of three trainees from neighbouring Liberia.

  • Identification of monitoring and research needs in the selected area

The WSFI capacity-building project works hand in hand with the WSFI monitoring project. This included input to planning 2013 January surveys and delivery of equipment.

Phase 3: Implementation

  • Planning for delivery of capacity-building

Joint training events were planned with Wetlands International and BirdLife International for the PRCM region under the CMB project, and these were carried out in January-March 2013. The CMB project conducted courses in Senegal and Guinea.
The development of a regional photographic guide to waterbirds of the East Atlantic Flyway in Africa took significant steps forward during the first 6 months of 2013. After a number of exchanges between partners, a joint approach was agreed with support pledged from both WSFI projects and the CMB. The WSFI-capacity building project took the lead in developing the contract and terms of reference for the work, which will be carried out principally by Paul Robinson and Clive Barlow, based in Senegal and The Gambia respectively. 

  • Implementation of capacity-building programme

Two national training courses were conducted, and both seemed to have been very successful, and also marked direct support by the WSFI to African partners.

  1. Guinea-Bissau
    The course in Guinea-Bissau was held on Bubaque Island in the Bijagós Archipelago and led by Paulo Catry. All training was delivered in Portuguese, the national language. Some new training materials were also developed, available for the first time in Portuguese. The training included introducing the flyway approach to conservation, waterbird identification and counting, helping to consolidate a national waterbird monitoring network. The training course was followed immediately by surveys supported in part by the WSFI-monitoring project.

Fieldwork in the Bijagós definitely requires getting your feet wet!; 2 participants during the training

  1. Sierra Leone
    This was the first waterbird and wetland training course to take place in Sierra Leone, and was organised by the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone. It took place at Kent, a small coastal village close to the extensive Yawri Bay – one of the country’s most extensive coastal wetlands. The group included three trainees from Liberia, promoting cross-boundary exchange.
    The course covered the flyway approach to conservation, network development and coordination, waterbird identification and counting and wetland inventory. It included practical field trips to different coastal sites.

Evaluation

Evaluations were carried out at the end of each course, and showed overall very favourable results. The technical content and level of training seemed to be well pitched. Provision of suitable accommodation and food were somewhat difficult to realise in Sierra Leone, where there are few affordable venues outside of Freetown with appropriate facilities (e.g. electricity) close to wetland areas. Results are shown below. Longer-term evaluations will be carried out next year to assess engagement of trainees in wetland / waterbird activities, and the impact of their training.

Full reports of both training courses are available on the WSFI website.

  • Joint development of a long-term management plan for the target area

A regional plan to guide the management of migratory waterbirds, in particular migratory waders, along the East Atlantic Flyway will be developed through consultation and a regional workshop in 2013. Pilot management / ecotourism projects have been discussed with some partners, and some should be underway in the second half of 2013.


WSFI activity report on the monitoring project 2012

This work is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs through the Programme Rich Wadden Sea. The work have been carried out in close cooperation with the CMB project of Birdlife International and Wetlands International and with the capacity building part of the WSFI project.
The project consists of four outputs which will be discussed below:

Output 1. An integrated Monitoring Framework for the East Atlantic Flyway.

This consists of a plan for the organizing of integrated monitoring in the whole coastal part of the East-Atlantic Flyway. Covering the regions Arctic, NW-Europe, West Africa and Southern Africa and the monitoring types abundance monitoring, vital rate monitoring and environmental monitoring. 

  • A consultation draft of the framework and plan have been made in 2012 and discussed with an ad-hoc group of experts.
  • In the beginning of 2013 the comments of the experts will be incorporated and a second draft will be circulated, including to the members of the advisory board of the WSFI.
  • The plan have to be ready at the end of 2013 and will be printed and distributed in the beginning of 2014.

Output 2. A monitoring strategy for coastal West Africa

This consists of a plan for the monitoring of coastal sites at the Atlantic seaboard of West Africa with emphasize to the countries Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinee-Bissau, Guinee, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde. Here are the most important wintering grounds for populations from the Wadden Sea. It is as such a further implementation of the overall flyway plan (output 1). The focus is on abundance monitoring and on environmental monitoring.

  • A consultation draft of the monitoring strategy have been prepared in 2012 and discussed with stakeholders during a workshop in June 2012 in Dakar (Senegal).
  • There is a good consensus about the strategy which consists of yearly counts at a selection of sites and once in six years a total count of all key sites. Secondly with this counts an integration of methodologies of the International Waterbird Census (abundance monitoring) and monitoring of Important Bird Areas (environmental monitoring) will be carried out during the field work.
  • In 2013 comments on this strategy will be incorporated. After this a second draft will be circulated, including to the members of the advisory board of the WSFI.
  • The strategy document will be finalized during 2013 and will be printed and distributed in the beginning of 2014 (maybe second half of 2013 already).  
  • As part of output 2 also guidelines for coordinators and counters carrying out the monitoring are prepared and site protocols for large and difficult key sites. In 2012 first drafts of these guidelines and protocols are made which will be further developed in 2013.  These guidelines and protocols will be printed in 2013 so that they can be used during the total count of January 2014.
  • All winter counts of non-breeding waterbirds of coastal sites in West-Africa will be (as far as possible) included in the IWC database. A part of these counts are already available at this database but several others need to be added. The work has started in 2012 and will be finalized in 2013.

Output 3. Pilot counts in West Africa

  • This will consist of counting of a selection of sites in January 2013 and a total count in January 2014.
  • In 2012 a field training workshop was carried out in national Park Diawling (Mauritania) in December 2012 with representatives of all countries of the cooperation (Sierra Leone, Guinee, Guinee-Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde and Mauritania). Training focused on species identification, counting methods, monitoring methods and description of environmental factors and threats at sites.
  • For the counts of a selection of sites in January 2013 all seven countries in West Africa have made project proposals in December 2012. After review of these proposals these will be granted (small grants from CMB and WSFI) in the beginning of January 2013 to enable the start of the monitoring.
  • During 2012 and especially in 2013 preparatory work will be carried out (defining all key sites, establishing counting units, formation of groups of counters etc.) for the total count of January 2014.
  • The assembling of the data from January 2013 will be carried out in the first half of 2013. The data of January 2014 will be assembled in the first half of 2014 and the report presenting and analyzing the results will be prepared after that.    

Output 4. Investigating future prospects for continuation of the monitoring in West Africa after 2014 and implementation of the integrated monitoring framework for the East Atlantic Flyway.
Work for this output is scheduled for 2014. However discussions about this will be started in 2013 (within the Dutch Ministry of EZ and others) in preparation of the Trilateral Ministerial Conference for the Wadden Sea in Denmark, February 2014.


WSFI activity report on the capacity building project 2012

Introduction
The project International Co-operation for the Protection of Waterbirds along their Flyways, which aims at intensifying co-operation for the protection of waterbirds along the African-Eurasian Flyway, started in January 2012, following on from planning meetings and development during 2011. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment & Nature Conservation (BMU).

During 2012, much attention was paid to strengthening links with other key partners, planning through the set-up and engagement of an advisory board and steering group, developing information materials and setting plans in motion for delivery of capacity-building activities in early 2013. Contributions were also made to the development of the WSFI monitoring project.

Project Activities

Phase 1: Development of concepts and specifications

  • Development of a framework of co-operation in the areas of management and research along the African-Eurasian Flyway

It was initially planned to develop a framework of co-operation in the very early stages of the project. This framework should determine the future cooperation of the Wadden Sea World Heritage state parties with partners along the East Atlantic Flyway as required from the UNESCO decision. However, after discussions between persons involved in the project and through input of the steering group and advisory board, it was decided that a flyway vision should first be developed with close input of the advisory board for eventual adoption at the 12th Trilateral Governmental Wadden Sea Conference in 2014.
The draft vision was developed in late 2012 with advisory board input for submission to the Task Group World Heritage in early 2013. The framework will be developed during 2013 after the draft vision has been approved by this group.
The draft vision statement selected was this: “Migratory birds find lasting refuge along the East Atlantic Flyway from northern breeding areas to their key Wadden Sea stopover and to the African coastline, and inspire and connect people for future generations”.

  • Development of a capacity-building concept for the East Atlantic Flyway

Plans for two national training courses were developed during 2012 for delivery in January 2013. These and their subsequent evaluation will guide development of the final capacity-building concept during 2013. Priority target groups, areas and training needs were developed, and a work-sharing programme of training course delivery established with the Conservation of Migratory Birds project (CMB) of BirdLife International.
The main training tools in use are the Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Flyways Training Kit and the toolkit on identifying and counting waterbirds in Africa produced by Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS). An additional training tool focused more on wetland management for migratory birds is under development, in partnership with CMB and Wetlands International Africa. The CMB project is taking the initial lead on this, and the first draft has been submitted for further development.

  • Establishment of a supporting project advisory group

The CWSS established the advisory group, and a first meeting was held in September in Wilhelmshaven. A project steering group was also established, and two meetings were held – in May 2012 in La Rochelle and in September 2012 in Wilhelmshaven.

Phase 2: Organisation and implementation planning

  • Project inception meeting

A project inception and planning meeting was held in Freetown, Sierra Leone in February 2012, back-to-back with the CMB annual project review and project steering committee meeting. This provided an excellent opportunity to introduce the project, as well as the WSFI monitoring project. Strong links were forged with regional staff and offices of Wetlands International and BirdLife International, as well as with national partners from the ‘PRCM region’; (PRCM is a regional cooperation framework covering countries between Mauritania and Sierra Leone, as well as Cape Verde).
During this meeting, it was identified that the capacity-building and monitoring projects needed to operate under a named and identifiable ‘banner’. It was decided to name this the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI), which has proved a successful badge for the programme. Subsequent to this, a leaflet focused on the WSFI was produced in English and French, placing the initiative firmly in the West African context.

  • Selection of a defined project area

The East Atlantic Flyway has been identified as the key focal flyway of the WSFI, with this initial project area being the western seaboard of Africa. The CMB project focuses especially on the region between Mauritania and Sierra Leone, which also is the most important region for supporting Wadden Sea birds. This region therefore also forms a core area of the WSFI capacity-building project. However, some greater outreach and engagement with countries further east and south along the flyway is also planned.

Attention was paid in 2012 to development of a suitable map to highlight the project area. It was decided to clearly show the East Atlantic Flyway, with the connection between the Wadden Sea and other key sites. An analysis was carried out to identify all sites supporting >100,000 birds, >500,000 birds and >1 million birds. This was used to determine which sites to highlight on the map, but will have other uses as well. The draft map (right) was produced by Vogelbescherming.

  • Identification of potential target groups and planning for implementation of capacity-building activities

A programme of capacity-building activities in coastal West Africa was planned jointly with Wetlands International and BirdLife International under the CMB project. Target groups vary somewhat between countries, but it was clear that community groups need to be involved wherever possible. Wider planning was achieved with representatives of all PRCM countries during the February 2012 meeting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, with follow-up at the monitoring workshop in Dakar, Senegal in June 2012.

  • Identification of monitoring and research needs in the selected area

Through this activity, the WSFI capacity-building project contributed time and planning to the development of the monitoring framework and monitoring strategy under the WSFI monitoring project. This included active participation in the CMB / WSFI monitoring workshop held in Dakar, Senegal in June 2012.

Phase 3: Implementation

  • Planning for delivery of capacity-building

Joint training events were planned with Wetlands International and BirdLife International for the PRCM region under the CMB project. It was identified that the WSFI would organise training courses in Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone and in one other country outside the PRCM region, probably Angola. Meanwhile, the CMB project would organise courses in Senegal, Guinea and The Gambia. Initial plans are in place for a regional training event for late 2013, as well as a number of small awareness events.
There were significant discussions concerning the development of a regional photographic guide to waterbirds of the East Atlantic Flyway in Africa, which will also highlight the flyway itself and key coastal wetland habitats. Final recommendations will be made for this guide in early 2013.

  • Implementation of capacity-building programme

No training courses were carried out in 2012 directly under the WSFI-capacity-building project, although contracts were prepared and signed and first payments made for two national courses scheduled for January 2013.
One regional training course was held at the Parc National de Diawling in Mauritania under the WSFI-monitoring and CMB projects in December 2012. Tim Dodman contributed significantly to the development and delivery of this training course, under the WSFI-capacity-building project. This included development of the draft programme / agenda and design of several training sessions. The joint training workshop was successful in meeting its main objective of strengthening the capacity of the regional network in planning and executing field monitoring of waterbirds and their habitats in the coastal zone.

  • Joint development of a long-term management plan for the target area

A regional plan to guide the management of migratory waterbirds, in particular migratory waders, along the East Atlantic Flyway will be developed through consultation and a regional workshop in 2013. Discussions were held in 2012 for the planning of this workshop to be held jointly with the CMB project; the workshop is expected to take place in November 2013 in the Sine Saloum Delta of Senegal.

Pilot management / ecotourism projects have been discussed with some partners, and will get underway in 2013. Initial activities are likely to take part in Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.

Kent, Sierra Leone: Conservation of waterbirds and wetlands in the coastal zone, 22-26 January 2013

The training course brought together 25 persons comprising 3 from the Republic of Liberia and 22 Sierra Leoneans from NGOs, local conservation groups, tertiary institutions and community representatives, all associated with the coastal zones of Sierra Leone and Liberia to participate in the training course.

The course evaluation indicated that the contents, professional competence of the resource persons and the methods of delivery all created a significant impact in building and strengthening the capacities of the trainees in the principles and practice of flyways conservation. The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) as host institution for the course also benefitted from the training in the provision of books and equipment for this work. But in addition to those materials CSSL being the coordinating institution for wetland and waterbird conservation and management in Sierra Leone will be strengthened through professional interactions with persons involved in the network proposed in the recommendations; it will also continue to benefit from the knowledge, skills and experiences of the  resource persons who  taught that course.

A week before the course and during the course waterbird count and site monitoring was conducted organized on one hand by CSSL and the other as part of the practical lessons for the trainees. Results gained were conveyed to the International Waterbird Census Programme.
During the final session of the course participants were requested to make recommendations which should serve as Action Points for the establishment for the planning and overall governance of the network for wetland and waterbird conservation and management. Several useful recommendations were made which will greatly improve these activities in future. For instance the participants stressed the need for full stakeholder participation including local communities, as well as the free flow of information for more awareness raising and participation. They also emphasized the need for more capacity building in continued training and the provision of needed resources for sustained progress.

The report of the training course can be downloaded here.
 

Photos: Tim Dodman

Bubaque, Guinea Bissau: Training Course, 12-19 January 2013

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative organized together with the Organização para a Defesa e Desenvolvimento das Zonas Húmidas (ODZH) a training course in capacity building in Bubaque, Guineas Bissau on 12-19 January 2013. The lead trainer Paulo Catry and the national organizers Joãozinho Sá and Hamilton Monteiro were using the WOW Flyway Training Kit and the ONCFS kit to teach 16 trainees monitoring exercises and theoretical contents about flyways, migratory birds, ecology and more.

Additionally field exercises were carried out where the trainees learned to handle the necessary field equipment and to identify and count migratory bird species. The training course report by the lead trainer Paulo Catry which includes recommendations on training and conservation issues can be downloaded here and the ODZH technical report (in French) can be obtained here.

Photos: Paulo Catry

Diawling, Mauritania: Regional Monitoring Training Course, 4-6 December 2012

Regional training course ‘Monitoring waterbirds and wetlands along the west coast of Africa’ Parc National du Diawling, Mauritania.
From 4th - 6th December 2012, Mauritania’s Diawling National Park hosted the first regional training course of the West African coastal zone flyways partnership between BirdLife International, Wetlands International and the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI). The 30 participants were drawn from a range of Mauritanian agencies, plus government and NGO reps from Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde, as well as international resource persons.

The 3-day course was practical in nature and focused on preparing participants for monitoring the coastal wetlands of West Africa. The main elements included the identification and counting of waterbirds, site inventory and site monitoring, including identifying and recording threats. The training culminated in a practical exercise of field monitoring in a specified area of Diawling, with participants forming monitoring teams themselves, delegating team coordinators and sharing tasks. After this exercise a thorough review of results with all participants took place.

A raging fire in the extensive Typha beds of the park added excitement to the course, and underlined the importance of monitoring in changing environments and accounting for threats. The fire, for instance, presented immediate threats to wildlife and villages, whilst the extensive Typha itself presents a more serious longer-term threat to the ecological integrity of the Senegal Delta.

In follow-up to the training, grants are being provided to countries to assist in carrying out monitoring in January 2013, whilst a major ‘total waterbird count’ is planned for the coastal zone in January 2014. Meanwhile, national training courses will take place in early 2013 in Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Senegal.

Participants found the course to be very useful, and relevant to their work. Zein el Abidin, Conservator of Diawling, considers waterbirds to be strong bio-indicators of the health of wetlands, which are themselves very important for biodiversity and poverty alleviation.

The training course and other activities are financed primarily by the MAVA Foundation and the governments of Germany and the Netherlands. The organisers wish to thank these supporters, as well as the Mauritanian government for their organisational support, notably the Director of the Diawling National Park.


Photos by Tim Dodman

Dakar, Senegal: Linking Methods and People, 19-21 June 2012 (WSNL #26)

A succesful West-Africa Regional monitoring workshop for Wadden Sea birds in Dakar. From the migratory birds’ perspective, the Wadden Sea is a crucial part of the meta-ecosystem that stretches from its arctic breeding grounds to the wintering areas in West-Africa and even further South. From the Wadden Sea perspective, the role of millions of migratory birds visiting the area during their live-cycle, are crucial to a healthy Wadden Sea ecosystem.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) aims to improve conservation management of both the Wadden Sea  and its migratory birds, by  enhancing cooperation along the flyway. An important basis for evidence-based conservation management is up-to-date knowledge on bottlenecks along the flyway, the critical phase in the birds’yearly cycle, and general population trends. Therefore, one of the projects under the umbrella of the WSFI is to establish an International  Monitoring Framework for Wadden Sea waterbird populations. Key elements for this framework already exist, but gaps need to be filled and different initiatives to be linked.

Cooperation between the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, and the West-African ‘Conservation of Migratory Birds’ project of BirdLife International and Wetlands International proves to be succesful. During the first regional monitoring workshop in Dakar, June 2012, NGO and Governmental parties from Mauritania to Sierra Leone, where brought together, to work on a regional monitoring strategy. A big step forward is taken by combining  the West-African waterbird census of Wetlands International to the Important Bird Area (IBA) Species, Pressure and Site monitoring methodology of BirdLife International. The BirdLife International idea of Local Caretaker Groups is incorporated in the programme. Local people will be trained to carrying out the monitoring, thus aiming to make it a more sustainable regional activity. This new monitoring system for the West-African region can be used as an early warning for Wadden Sea bird populations and ecosystems along the flyway.
 
Source text and photo: Programma Natuur, Afdeling Bescherming

Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative at the AEWA/MOP5, 15 May 2012 (WSNL #24)

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) has been presented at the 5th Meeting of the Parties of the 'The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds' (AEWA) in La Rochelle, France, on 15 May 2012.

The Wadden Sea is a crucial stepping stone on the migratory route of millions of birds. Now that the Dutch-German Wadden Sea has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Germany and the Netherlands have an enhanced responsibility to strengthen their cooperation with countries along the East Atlantic Flyway for the conservation of migratory birds. The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative has thus been launched to put this into action. Two projects have been developed under the Initiative aim to increase capacity for migratory bird conservation and monitoring along the western seaboard of Africa. The projects, which run from 2012 to 2014, are funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Dutch Ministry of Economic affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative works in close collaboration with other migratory bird conservation projects and initiatives in West Africa, most notably AEWA and the Conservation of Migratory Birds (CMB) project of Birdlife International and Wetlands International.The aims of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative are to support the conservation of migratory waterbirds in the region, to obtain more detailed monitoring data and to develop a long-term perspective for the cooperation of the Wadden Sea with countries along the whole flyway.
The speakers of the WSFI side event at the AEWA/MOP5 emphasized the importance of African-European cooperation for the conservation of migratory birds along the East Atlantic Flyway.

WSFI and BirdLife CMB project inception meeting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 6-7 February 2012 (WSNL #22)

Under the umbrella of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative two East Atlantic Flyway projects with a West Africa focus have been launched. As follow up of the UNESCO WHC requests (Seville, 2009) and the recommendations of the international flyway workshop in Wilhelmshaven, March 2011, the German BMU (Federal Ministry for the Environment) started a capacity building and management project in November 2011. The Dutch Ministry of EL&I (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation) in cooperating with PRW (Project towards a Rich Wadden Sea) launched a project focussing on monitoring and research in March 2012. The Initiative is cooperating with AEWA, BirdLife International, Wetlands International and other organisations active in West Africa.

From the outset both projects have tuned their work plans with regard to specific activities, timing, sites and communication to reach a maximum of synergies. Moreover, the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative started at the same time a close cooperation with the on-going BirdLife International CMB Africa Partnership project to mutually initiate, support and carry out capacity building and monitoring activities with enhanced and more flexible opportunities for delivery.

At an inception meeting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 6-7 February 2012 the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative and the CMB project agreed on a close cooperation and adopted a common draft action plan. The meeting also provided an opportunity to contact and interview governmental and NGO representatives of the 7 PRCM (West African Regional Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme) countries with regard to planned activities of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative.

A side event for a joint presentation of all three involved projects is planned at the AEWA MOP5 (5th Meeting of the Parties) in La Rochelle, 14-18 May 2012. The side event will give good opportunities to highlight the new partnership and to communicate and discuss with West African partners and participants about further implementation of the projects.

 

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative is funded by the PRW and the BMU and coordinated by the CWSS.

Other partners: AEWA, Birdlife International, Wetlands International, Ramsar Convention, Parc National du Banc d'Arguin, Mava Foundation, Vogelbescherming, National Park Wadden Sea Niedersachsen, National Park Wadden Sea Schleswig-Holstein, National Park Wadden Sea Denmark, WWF, Waddenvereniging, Schutzstation Wattenmeer, Verein Jordsand, NLWKN-Staatliche Vogelwarte, NABU-Bundesverband, Dansk Ornitologisk Forening, Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft, Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Schleswig-Holstein, Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten, Institute of Avian Research, Mellumrat e.V., Wissenschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur und Umweltschutz Jever e.V. (WAU), Niedersächsische Ornithologische Vereinigung (NOV)