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Media Release
Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


2 February 2001

Boost in Protection for Migratory 'Frequent Flyers'


Imagine you have just flown 100 kilometres, you look down and your wetland destination has been drained, bulldozed or contaminated! For many migratory birds that was a common experience in the past.

Future generations of migratory waterbirds are assured a warmer welcome with the announcement of a plan to improve the management of the places where shorebirds gather to rest, feed and breed in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at a launch today to mark World Wetlands Day, Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, said the release of the Shorebird Action Plan would help protect thousands of migratory bird species such as plovers, sand-pipers, curlews and snipe.

"Migratory waterbirds travel thousands of kilometres each year from their breeding grounds in the Arctic, through Asia, to Australia, where they enjoy summers on our wetlands and coasts. Some species of shorebirds, weighing as little as 30 grams, fly over 25,000 kilometres in one year," Sharman Stone said.

"The routes they use, their 'flyways', are made up of chains of important wetlands. Australia is part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, which also includes the Arctic Circle, Eastern and South-east Asia and New Zealand. Shorebirds use wetlands like stepping stones on their global journeys. The health of wetlands are vitally important to the survival of migratory waterbirds. They provide essential food and shelter.

"In March 1996, an international program called the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network was established to help protect migratory shorebirds along this flyway. The Network now includes 28 wetland sites in nine different countries".

"The Shorebird Action Plan will extend the Network to a further 100 sites in the Asia Pacific region by 2005. This represents at least 25 per cent of all the internationally important sites for the migratory shorebirds".

"Australia has over 200 sites identified as internationally important on the shorebirds migration. 11 of these currently form part of the Shorebird Site Network. It is Australia's aim to nominate 50 sites across the country to the Network by 2005."

"The active involvement of local communities is crucial if these important sites are to be protected and maintained".

"The Federal Government has contributed to the Asia Pacific Migratory Waterbird Strategy and Shorebird Action Plan with funds from the $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust. This has allowed the nomination of the latest two sites from Victoria and the staging of the inaugural Australian and New Zealand Shorebird Site Network managers' workshop," Sharman Stone said.

"I encourage all Australians, particularly communities living near important wetlands to nominate their sites to the Shorebird Site Network. There are all sorts of opportunities for communities to get involved in protecting these sites. For example communities can count and monitor the number of visiting waterbirds and monitor the condition of the wetland to encourage their continued use by migratory waterbirds".

For access to high resolution wetland and shorebird images, please see: World Wetlands Day Media Page at www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/

For further information please contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468 or 02 6277 2016
2 February 2001

Commonwealth of Australia