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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

05 June 2002

Migratory Shorebirds Documentary Takes Flight


A new online documentary mapping the amazing journey of migrating shorebirds will enable bird-lovers around the world to help participate in their conservation, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, said today.

A Year on the Wing, launched today in Melbourne on World Environment Day, is a collaborative effort between the environment and arts communities, jointly funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, ABC New Media and the Australian Film Commission.

A Year on the Wing will present a unique perspective on shorebird migration, focusing on the largest of the 55 shorebirds which travel along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, the Eastern Curlew. The Eastern Curlew breeds in far eastern Russia, before beginning its migration from the Arctic through Asia to Australia and New Zealand. The birds fly this route twice a year from north to south and back, travelling up to 25,000 kilometres per year.

"This interactive online documentary promotes an understanding of the remarkable life-cycle of migratory shorebirds and encourages participation in conservation activities both here in Australia, and throughout the bird's entire migration route," Dr Kemp explained.

Dr Kemp is in Indonesia, attending the fourth and final preparatory session for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in late August.

"The future of migratory shorebirds can only be assured if conservation action is taken in all countries along the migration route. These birds show us that the world's environment is indeed interconnected. The birds are integral to the natural balance of Australia's wetlands and the ecosystem of each wetland at which they stop to feed and rest.

"Just as these shorebirds network the wetlands throughout Australia and in the Asia Pacific region, this documentary will facilitate the networking of people with a common interest in these wonderful birds."

Visitors to the site will be able to track the birds on their journey, contribute stories, information, observations, artwork and argument to the project, visit the wetlands throughout the Flyway, plot where they live on the Flyway and join the international Chain of Schools supporting the network of wetlands. Information, activities and resources about the birds, and the ecology and culture of the places they visit will also be available.

Australia has a strong record of leadership in migratory shorebird conservation in Australia and in the entire migratory route of these birds, with bilateral conservation agreements already in place with Japan and China and work underway to establish a conservation agreement with Korea.

"Effective protection of migratory shorebirds and their habitats, which are largely wetlands, requires the support and involvement of the whole community," Dr Kemp said.

"Community and industry involvement through the Natural Heritage Trust and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is invaluable in implementing on-ground conservation actions for these birds and wetlands."

The Australian Film Commission/ABC New Media 'Documentary Online" initiative was established to encourage exciting and adventurous projects that exploit the possibilities of the Internet and challenge conventional documentary forms.

A Year on the Wing can be found on the ABC website at www.abc.net.au/docos.

Media contacts:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Carolyn MacDonald ABC (03) 9626 1606 or 0418 273 141
Traccy Mair AFC (02) 9362 8566 or 0419 221 493

Commonwealth of Australia