[Nicola Crockford reports back from the IUCN meetings in Korea, and the adoption of Resolution 32 - Conservation of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and its threatened waterbirds, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea]
The adoption of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Resolution 32 last week is an exciting springboard to concerted action to conserve the Asian coastal habitats of migratory waterbirds, especially in the Yellow Sea of China and Korea. It was preceded by more than a year of preparatory consultations with relevant governments and experts leading to the publication of the IUCN situation analysis on East and Southeast Asian intertidal habitats, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea (including the Bohai Sea) which provides a factual basis for the Resolution.
The main objective was to develop a constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities to enable the international conservation community to offer support as needed in further developing and implementing sustainable coastal zone planning in the key countries, especially of the Yellow Sea. As we have detailed before on this blog, these wetlands are critical for the survival of many species, including the charismatic spoon-billed sandpiper.
Thanks to useful discussions in the run up to, and during the sessions, especially with the delegations of China and the Republic of Korea, plans are afoot for 2013 to hold national government-led meetings on how to implement Resolution 32.
Meanwhile, in September 2013 a two year post-doctoral study on the ecosystem services of the Asian coastal zone started at Princeton University and will contribute to a larger IUCN study. An East Asia Australasia Flyway Partnership side event on 10 October 2012 at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad will give an opportunity for discussion of the next steps for implementing Resolution 32.
Many thanks to the large number of people who have been involved in helping move this critical work forwards.
Launch of IUCN Situation Analysis at Species Pavilion event at IUCN World Conservation Congress on 9 September: Spike Millington Chief Executive Partnership for the East Asian - Australasian Flyway, Kim Jin Han of the Korean National Institute of Biological Resources, Nicola Crockford RSPB/BirdLife International, Simon Stuart Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and Scott Perkin Head, Regional Biodiversity Conservation Programme, IUCN Asia Regional Office.
About a decade ago, experts started noticing a crash in Gyps vulture populations. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and RSPB were at the forefront of determining that this was because of diclofenac, a pain-killer given to cattle. Vigorous campaigns have led to the complete ban of diclofenac as a veterinary drug. However, despite successes, diclofenac is still a deadly, persistent threat with illegal use of human formulations on cattle being rampant.
BNHS, along with the RSPB and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute are constantly monitoring new drugs to see their impact. Aceclofenac, a new painkiller, has just been proved to be fatal to vultures. There are currently three successful vulture breeding centres, and the next step is releasing Gyps vultures into the wild, through the establishment of Vulture Safe Zones. These Safe Zones have to be made 100 per cent free from drugs harmful to vultures. Unfortunately, now it’s not just diclofenac we have to watch out for.
BNHS are running a side event on vultures at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting being held in India in October. To follow this work, visit the CBD blog here.
White-backed vultures feeding on wild chital in Bandipur National Park (Nityata Foundation)
Today IUCN, the Species Survival Commission, and the Zoological Society of London announced Priceless or Worthless, a list of the world's 100 most threatened species (you can read it here).
These species cut across all taxonomic groups, and include such wonders as the pygmy three-toed sloth, the estuarine pipefish, Bullock's false toad, the Gooty tarantula, and the suicide palm (so called because after a huge reproductive effort that sees a flower spike of up to 5 metres tall, the palm then dies).
The RSPB is already working on five of these species through various projects: Liben lark, spoon-billed sandpiper, northern bald ibis, great Indian bustard, and Amsterdam albatross, while the white-bellied heron is on our list of critical species and is being assessed for potential action.
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