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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Guidelines for the preparation of site nominating documentation for the East Asian-Australasian shorebird site network

Environment Australia and Wetlands International - Oceania, 2002

1. The East Asian-Australasian shorebird site network - information paper

1.1 Summary

Each year millions of shorebirds migrate between their breeding areas in the Russian Far East, northern China and Alaska to as far south as Australia and New Zealand. To complete this remarkable migration of up to 12 000 km, shorebirds are dependent on intermediate staging sites where they can replenish the fat reserves needed to power them further on their migration. As such successful conservation of migratory shorebirds requires a coordinated multinational approach.

The East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network was developed under the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy: 1996-2000. This Strategy has been updated for the 2001 - 2005 period. The Network aims to facilitate international recognition and management of a network of important sites for shorebirds. The Network operates as a cooperative environmental program, involving site management bodies and local communities, working for the conservation of wetlands of international importance for migratory shorebirds.

The motivating feature of the Network is that it enables site owners, managers, participating organisations and local people to obtain international recognition for the importance of the site and their conservation efforts.

At the international level the Shorebird Site Network is supported by a Shorebird Flyway Officer working with Wetlands International. The Shorebird Flyway Officer works from the Oceania Office of Wetlands International which is co-located with Environment Australia in Canberra, Australia. The position is funded by Environment Australia. A Shorebird Working Group oversees the development of the Network.

1.2 Introduction

Each year millions of shorebirds migrate between their breeding areas in the Russian Far East, northern China and Alaska to as far south as Australia and New Zealand. To complete this remarkable migration of up to 12 000 km, shorebirds are dependent on intermediate staging sites where they can replenish the fat reserves needed to power them further on their migration. As such, successful conservation of migratory waterbirds, which include shorebirds, requires a coordinated multinational approach.

In December 1994 a workshop was held in Kushiro, Japan to discuss conservation of migratory waterbirds in East Asia - Australasia. The meeting was organised under the auspices of the Environment Agency of Japan and Environment Australia with assistance from the Wetlands International - Asia Pacific and Wetlands International - Japan. The meeting was attended by 92 participants from 16 regional nations.

The workshop produced a summary statement called the "Kushiro Initiative". The statement called for the:

The "Kushiro Initiative" specifically called for the establishment of a network of internationally important sites for migratory shorebirds. This network was to be based on the very successful Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network that has operated in the Americas since 1985. The Shorebird Site Network forms part of the East Asian-Australasian Migratory Shorebird Action Plan, itself an element of the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy.

The Shorebird Site Network has been developed by Wetlands International - Oceania, with funding from Environment Australia.

1.3 Principles of the East Asian-Australasian shorebird site network

The following principles outline the philosophy for the operation of the Network:

Geographic coverage of the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Flyway is shown on Map 1.

1.4 Nature of the network

The East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network is a cooperative international program for conservation of shorebirds and their habitats. It involves collaboration of site management bodies and local communities. This mechanism is primarily aimed at assisting "on-site" personnel while providing opportunities for assistance from "off-site" conservation agencies and organisations.

An important feature of the Network is that it enables site owners, managers, participating organisations and local people to obtain international recognition for the importance of their site and their conservation efforts.

The Shorebird Site Network is a network of both sites and people. Managers of Network sites are encouraged to establish mechanisms to build community support for the conservation management of the site. All issues related to site management continue to be the responsibility of the site management bodies.

It is not intended that the sites in the Network be limited to totally protected areas declared under national legislation. In developing the Shorebird Site Network concept it has been recognised that shorebird conservation can be achieved within the "wise-use" of a site without the site needing to be a totally protected area

1.5 Goal of the network

To ensure the long term conservation of migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway through recognition and appropriate management of a network of internationally important sites.

1.6 Activities of the network

Site Management Bodies / National Agencies

Shorebird Flyway Officer

Figure 1. East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network

Figure 1. East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network

Network Sites

  1. Moroshechnaya Estuary
  2. Yatsu tidal flats
  3. Yoshino Estuary
  4. Shuangtaizi Estuary
  5. Yellow River Delta
  6. Mai Po - Inner Deep Bay
  7. Olango Island
  8. Wasur National Park
  9. Kakadu National Park
  10. Parry Lagoons
  11. Thomsons Lake
  12. Moreton Bay
  13. Kooragang Nature Reserve
  14. Corner Inlet
  15. The Coorong
  16. Orielton Lagoon
  17. Logan Lagoon
  18. Firth of Thames
  19. Farewell Spit
  20. Tonda Wildlife Area
  21. Tonggin Estuary
  22. Manko
  23. Chongming Dongtan
  24. Yalu Jiang
  25. Yancheng
  26. Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park
  27. Western Port
  28. Port Phillip Bay
  29. Dalaihu
  30. Kashima
  31. Sungei Buloh

1.7 Joining the shorebird site network

To become a site in the Shorebird Site Network involves the following:

Site management bodies are invited to consult with the Shorebird Flyway Officer of Wetlands International - Asia Pacific when considering the potential nomination of sites. This process will ensure that technical questions about the shorebird criteria can be satisfactorily addressed before a site is formally nominated. Site nominations will be reviewed by the Shorebird Working Group and will formally become part of the Shorebird Site Network following noting by the Wetlands International - Asia Pacific Council.

The Network Site dedication ceremony is envisaged as being organised by the site management body. It provides an opportunity to formally involve politicians, administrators and the local community in a celebration of the importance of the site.

1.8 Biological criteria to qualify as a network site

The Kushiro workshop agreed that the criteria for sites to qualify for inclusion in the Network should be modelled on the Ramsar Convention's "Special Criteria Based on Waterfowl for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance". This has been supported in subsequent discussions.

As such the criteria for a site is:

During migration shorebirds stop at sites for brief periods to replenish their energy reserves and these sites are called "staging sites". A feature of staging sites is that the number of shorebirds supported is much greater than at any one count, because of movement of birds through the site. The guideline for applying the criteria to staging sites will be to use a multiplication factor of 4 for species that stage at these sites. That is the site would need to support a total of 5 000 staging shorebirds or 0.25% of a staging shorebird species. Management bodies are urged to discuss these complex issues with the Shorebird Flyway Officer at any early stage.'

It is anticipated that the Shorebird Working Group may re-evaluate the biological criteria as assessments are made of the adequacy of the Network. Consideration may be given to developing various categories of importance for sites within the Network.

1.9 Shorebird network support and administration

Wetlands International

Wetlands International was established in Malaysia in October 1995 through the integration of the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB), the International Wetlands and Waterbird Research Bureau (IWRB) and Wetlands for the Americas (WA). Wetlands International has three regional councils: Asia-Pacific, Europe-Africa-Middle East and the Americas. The membership of the Councils comprise of representatives of Governments in the region and organisational and technical experts.

Wetlands International combines the regional expertise of AWB with the experience that WA has in the coordination of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. IWRB bring the skills they have developed in the areas of waterbird research, working with the Ramsar Bureau and the development of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds. At the meeting of the Wetlands International - Asia Pacific Council on 18 March 1996, the representatives from Australia and Japan proposed that the Asia-Pacific Council of Wetlands International establish a framework and mechanism for overseeing and managing the Network. The Council approved this and an Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee and a Shorebird Working Group were established to undertake this task.

Shorebird working group

Wetlands International - Asia Pacific Council has established a Shorebird Working Group to oversee the implementation of the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Action Plan, which includes the development of the Shorebird Site Network. The working group has a membership drawn from Government, non-government organisations and experts actively involved in shorebird conservation.

The Shorebird Working Group meets once each year to review the activities of the Network, provide expert advise on Network development, review site nominations and forward plans. The Shorebird Flyway Officer provides the administrative support for the Shorebird Working Group.

An annual report of the activities of the Network is prepared and circulated to all participating countries and management bodies of Network sites.

Funding for projects initiated under the Network will need to be identified. It is anticipated that the projects will include activities such as newsletters, educational and awareness material, training courses, Network site management and personnel exchange between Network sites.

Shorebird flyway officer

In 1999 Environment Australia moved to provide funding to Wetland International - Oceania for a Flyway Offer to work full time. The funding covers salary, travel and office expenses up to mid 2002. The Shorebird Flyway Officer works from the Oceania Office of Wetland International, which is co-located with the Wetlands Unit of Environment Australia in Canberra, Australia.