Why Important Bird (and Biodiversity) Areas need legal protection

June 17, 2014 Borys Holowacz Latest Posts

Opinion from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists

World Birdwatch September 2013 Vol 35, no 3 gives the following examples of governments taking action to protect Birds and Biodiversity:

A recent report from Birdlife Africa gives evidence that protected status reduces the loss of natural land-cover at sites of high conservation importance.

Spain, a country that was recently near bankruptcy, has published an Atlas of Birds in Winter.  This effort involved 2600 surveyors over 3 years.  Supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the National Parks, the study identifies Spain’s many protected areas of biodiversity.

In Greece, another European country in straightened financial conditions, “the Hellenic Ornithological Society (BirdLife Greece) has just published its national inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) presented in the book Important Areas for Seabirds in Greece.  This 200-page colour edition concentrates data on seabirds collected by HOS over the last 15 years. “Comprehensive descriptions are given for the 41 newly designated marine IBAs, as well as up-to-date seabird population information, human activities occurring and threats to seabirds. The IBA inventory covers a total area of 9,943 km2 which is equivalent to approximately 8.7% of the territorial waters of Greece.” (quotes from BirdLife International web site)

In Bulgaria, the Society for the Protection of Birds celebrating its 25th anniversary, established IBAs as the backbone of the Natura 2000 network which led to the designation of over 30% of the country as Special Protected Areas and which makes Bulgaria one of the leading countries in the EU in this respect.
In Bangladesh, a country with few financial resources, an IBA has been established on Sonadia Island where the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper breeds.  The Conservator of Coastal Forests helped to restore mangrove cover on the island’s shorelines. Former bird hunters are now working as fisherman, tailors and watermelon growers.

Environment Canada is the lead agency on the International Convention on Biological Diversity, a 1992 treaty signed by 193 countries. In 2010 the Convention parties agreed to increase total coverage of land in Protected Areas from 13% to 17 % by 2020.

From the Environment Canada website: “As of the end of 2012, 10% (1 003 818 km2) of Canada’s land and freshwater (terrestrial) area and approximately 0.7% (49 326 km2) of its marine territory have been recognized as protected. “Protected areas are lands and waters where development and use is restricted by legal or other means for the conservation of nature.”

Wildlife, as well as humans, is being affected by climate change.  The World Wildlife Fund says “Sea levels are rising and oceans are becoming warmer. Longer, more intense droughts threaten crops, wildlife and freshwater supplies. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, our planet’s diversity of life is at risk from the changing climate.”

We believe Canada must increase its protection of habitats and endangered species in order to live up to the standards being set in other countries.

Authors:  Myrna (wood myrna@kos.net) and Cheryl Anderson (cherylanderson23@sympatico.ca)

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