Monday 29 September 2014

Australian Wader Study Group Conference - Darwin: Guest blog David Lawrie (NZ)

Our disappearing shorebirds
One of the world’s great natural wonders is the migration of shorebirds between their breeding grounds in Alaska and Siberia and their non-breeding grounds in Australia and New Zealand using the East Asian Australasian Flyway. This amazing phenomenon is in danger of imminent collapse because vital staging sites on the migration route are being lost.
This was the conclusion reached at the 9th Australasian Shorebird Conference held in Darwin on the weekend.

The Flyway’s 23 countries include nearly half the world’s human population and some of its fastest growing economies. The combination is applying extraordinary development pressure on tidal flats and wetlands where the birds find food to fuel their journeys.
Paper after paper described accelerating losses to aquaculture, agriculture and urban or industrial infrastructure, particularly in the Yellow Sea. Hunting, pollution and disturbance through recreational pursuits are also significant issues along the length of the Flyway.
Projects aiming to protect shorebird habitat and reduce its loss through remediation and/or restoration were highlighted but the sheer scale and rate of change is overwhelming these efforts.
Traditional livelihoods of the many people in the Flyway who depend on coastal wetlands and tidal flats are also disappearing.

In view of the dire situation facing shorebirds, delegates of the 9th Australasian Shorebird Conference:
• Express their deep concern about the alarming decline in shorebird numbers in the Flyway
• Encourage national governments to work in the spirit of international agreements to protect wetlands and coastal habitat for future generations
• Call on governments at all levels, the business sector and the community to work together to protect shorebirds and their habitat to prevent further losses
• Recognise and acknowledge the important role of the East Asian Australasian-Flyway Partnership as a framework to collaborate in the protection of shorebirds and their habitats.

This post was originally published in the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre face book page


  1. The same with wetlands in Europe which are also important breeding and spawning grounds for fish, mollusks and not to forget habitat of the "unseen", the million, partially yet unknown, microbes that regulate the marine ecosystem.

    1. Sadly it is true across the world, wetlands and the creatures that depend on them are taking a bashing across the board.