Select speeches from the international presentation and launch in Tokyo of the new BirdLife blueprint Saving Asia's Threatened Birds: A guide for government and civil society.
12 November 2003
- Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado (PDF)
- Yoshihiro Natori, Director of the Wildlife Division, Nature Conservation Bureau, Japan Ministry of Environment (Japanese, PDF)
- Noritaka Ichida, Director, BirdLife Asia Division
- Jorgen Thomsen, CEPF Executive Director, Conservation International
- Michael Carroll, The World Bank
- Gonzalo Castro, Global Environment Facility
Noritaka Ichida, Director, BirdLife Asia Division
English summary of presentation given in Japanese
THREATENED BIRDS OF ASIA
In July 2001 we launched the Asian Red Data Book, the Threatened birds of Asia, in the presence of Princess Takamado at a ceremony here in Tokyo. This Red Data Book was the result of a seven-year project that received major sponsorship from the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan. Over 1,000 people contributed information on threatened birds. The Red Data Book documented in great detail over 300 globally threatened bird species, and is the most authoritative book ever published on bird conservation in Asia.
SAVING ASIA'S THREATENED BIRDS
BirdLife is pleased to launch today Saving Asia's threatened birds: a guide for government and civil society, which presents the information on threatened birds in a user-friendly and visual form, and promotes the conservation actions that are most urgently needed. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund or CEPF has provided funding for this guide.
MAJOR FOREST REGIONS OF ASIA
Habitat loss is by far the most important threat to Asia's birds, and Saving Asia's threatened birds therefore has a particular focus on habitat conservation. Many threatened birds overlap in range and habitat requirements, and a single conservation action can often benefit several species. Recognizing this, the threatened species have been subdivided into groups according to their distributions and the habitats that they occupy. This analysis has identified nine major forest regions, three grassland regions and 20 wetlands regions, plus a group of threatened seabirds. The forest regions each support between six and 58 threatened forest bird species. Those in the tropics correspond closely with the global hotspots identified by Conservation International.
MAJOR GRASSLAND REGIONS OF ASIA
Analysis of the threatened birds of Asia's grasslands and arid habitats has identified three major grassland regions. These each support between five and 12 threatened bird species.
MAJOR WETLAND REGIONS OF ASIA
Asia has more threatened waterbirds than any other region of the world, including some relatively widespread species that are under pressure throughout their ranges, for example spoon-billed sandpiper and lesser adjutant. Twenty wetland regions have been identified as the main breeding, passage and wintering areas of these waterbirds. These wetland regions each support between two and 21 threatened species.
TARGET AUDIENCES OF SAVING ASIA’S THREATENED BIRDS
These main target audiences for Saving Asia's threatened birds are: national governments, especially environment and nature conservation departments; secretariats of international conventions; international funding agencies, donors and foundations; corporate sector; local, national and international NGOs, including BirdLife Partners; birdwatchers and ornithologists; academic institutions; media; and the general public. They are the target audiences because they are the organizations and people in whose hands lies the future of Asia's threatened birds. National and international conservation NGOs can carry out many of the conservation measures recommended in the guide, such as surveys and ecological studies, education and awareness, and site-based conservation projects. But there are many actions where the leadership of governments and the corporate sector is necessary.
International conventions are an important mechanism for the conservation of threatened birds and their habitats. For example, CITES to control the wild bird trade, Ramsar for wetland conservation and management, CMS and bilateral treaties for migratory birds and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification for the conservation of forests and grasslands. Saving Asia's threatened birds identifies the most important actions that are needed in relation to these conventions.
FOREST CONVERSION TO OIL PALM PLANTATIONS (e.g. SUMATRA, INDONESIA)
The following are examples of some of the major conservation issues covered in Saving Asia's threatened birds. In Southeast Asia, the lowland rain forests have been cleared very rapidly in recent decades. Initially the clearance was for timber for export, but more recent has been the conversion of natural forest to oil palm plantations, and for the pulp and paper industry. It is amazing that rainforest is still being pulped to produce paper. The guide identifies remaining forest areas that need to be conserved, and calls on governments and the private sector to put in place sustainable forest management practices, wise land-use planning and stronger environmental safeguards.
GRASSLAND CONVERSION TO AGRICULTURE (e.g. GREAT INDIAN BUSTARD)
The continuing conversion of grasslands to agricultural land is also of major concern. For example, in the Indian Subcontinent, large areas of the arid grassland and semi-desert habitats of great Indian bustard have been irrigated and converted for agriculture, and are no longer suitable for this species and others typical of this rich habitat. Large new irrigation projects are planned, which could affect large areas of arid habitat. These new projects need to be modified to prevent large-scale habitat conversion in key areas for great Indian bustard, and irrigation should be avoided in national parks and other protected areas.
"RECLAMATION" OF INTER-TIDAL MUDFLATS (e.g. SPOTTED GREENSHANK)
Along the coast of East Asia, large areas of inter-tidal wetland have already been reclaimed for agriculture, industry and other uses. There are plans to reclaim almost half of the inter-tidal wetlands that remain around the Yellow Sea. This would have a devastating impact on coastal ecosystems, and shorebirds species such as spotted greenshank that are endemic to the East Asia flyway. Reclamation plans need to be reviewed and revised.
Wetlands in the Asia region are generally very poorly protected. For example, the guide has identified 159 outstanding wetlands for threatened waterbirds, of which only 40 are currently designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
GAPS IN PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEMS (e.g. SANGIHE, INDONESIA)
National protected areas systems are perhaps the single most important mechanism available for the conservation of threatened birds and their habitats. The BirdLife Asia Partnership has worked with the governments of Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia to help establish new protected areas. Many important gaps in protected areas systems are highlighted in Saving Asia's threatened birds. For example, 41 sites are identified that are critical for species close to extinction, but only 22 of these are protected or partly protected.
In eastern Indonesia and the Philippines, there are many islands with threatened endemic birds that currently have no protected areas. One of these islands in Sangihe, where the last significant area of natural forest on the island support three Critically Endangered species that are found nowhere else, and two Endangered species that are endemic to the island.
GAPS IN PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEMS (e.g. YAMBARU, OKINAWA, JAPAN)
Another island, closer to home, which is in need of a new large protected area is Okinawa, where the forests of Yambaru are the only habitat for two threatened species, Okinawa rail and Okinawa woodpecker.
GAPS IN PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEMS (e.g. LAKE KHANKA, RUSSIA)
The boundaries of some protected areas need to be changed. For example, Lake Khanka Nature Reserve in south-east Russia is divided into five separate blocks, and many threatened waterbirds nest outside the current reserve boundaries. The reserve should be expanded to a single area covering all the important breeding sites of threatened waterbirds. Part of Lake Khanka is in China, and we should encourage the two governments to develop an international trans-boundary reserve.
WILD BIRD TRADE (e.g. STRAW-HEADED BULBUL)
The wild bird trade is a major issue in Indonesia and several other Asian countries, and the main cause of the decline of some species, including Bali starling, straw-headed bulbul and several species of cockatoo. The enforcement of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) is clearly important to control international trade, but internal trade is also a problem in some countries and new types of measures need to be developed to address this. Laws to control national trade may need to be strengthened, and law enforcers trained, with education and awareness campaigns for traders and the public. The guide identifies those species which might benefit from tighter trade regulations, including possible changes to the CITES Appendices.
HUNTING (e.g. LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE)
Hunting is a major issue in many parts of Asia, and is for example the main cause of the decline in Great Bustard. In the Yangtze basin, swan goose and lesser white-fronted goose are hunted in large numbers for sale in markets, including with the use of poison baits. Hunting laws need to be strengthened and better enforced, especially at key sites for threatened waterbirds, and the use of poisoned baits for hunting should be banned. The guide identifies other species that are threatened mainly by hunting, and the conservation measures that are needed.
GAPS IN KNOWLEDGE (e.g. WHITE-EYED RIVER-MARTIN)
Many of the threatened species in Asia are poorly known. Eleven Critical and Endangered species have not been recorded in recent decades, including white-eyed river-martin. This bird is only known from a single site in Thailand, and there are no reliable records since 1978, but we are hopeful that it may survive along rivers in some of the more remote areas of Southeast Asia. The guide suggests where suitable habitat may remain for the 11 'lost' species, where surveys are urgently needed to identify key sites and the most appropriate conservation actions before it is too late.
GAPS IN KNOWLEDGE (e.g. GYPS VULTURE DECLINES IN SOUTH ASIA)
The gaps in knowledge of some threatened birds mean that it is not possible at present to devise appropriate measures for their conservation. Three species of vultures have declined in numbers very rapidly in South Asia in the past decade. There have been intensive studies by BirdLife Partners and others of the declining vulture populations, but the causes are still not fully understood. The research work needs to be continued to determine the emergency actions needed to halt the crash in vulture populations. The guide identifies those species urgently in need of ecological studies so that conservation measures can be better planned.
SAVING ASIA'S THREATENED BIRDS
Saving Asia's Threatened Birds identifies practical measures that can be taken by government and civil society to conserve threatened birds and their habitats, based on the best available information. The guide is arguably the most comprehensive regional proposal to prevent species extinctions ever produced. To increase access, the guide will soon be available on CD-ROM and on the Internet. There is much to be done, but if governments and civil society work effectively together we can protect Asia's spectacular wildlife for future generations. Two weeks ago we held our Asia Partnership meeting in Indonesia, and all BirdLife Partners in Asia agreed to develop national action plans for threatened birds based upon this book.
Jorgen Thomsen, CEPF Executive Director, Conservation International
Your Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is delighted to be here today at the launch of this new guide to help prevent the extinction of Asia's threatened birds.
CEPF is a partnership of Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.
CEPF was established as a new approach to conservation. It is a rapid response fund that catalyzes and enables conservation efforts at the local level and where it matters most.
The focus of CEPF is on key areas in the developing world that, while rich in plants and animals, are under the most extreme threat. These areas are known as biodiversity hotspots.
Asia's hotspots include places like Sumatra, the Philippines, the Mountains of Southwest China and the Caucasus. They provide habitat for the Sumatran tiger, the Philippine eagle, the red panda and other species found nowhere else.
Today, one in every eight birds and one in every four known mammals is threatened with extinction. It is a crisis that effects far more than wildlife.
A fundamental goal of CEPF is to engage civil society—such as community groups and nongovernmental organizations—in biodiversity conservation. Our targeting of hotspots in developing countries means we are also supporting initiatives that contribute to poverty alleviation and economic prosperity.
BirdLife International and Conservation International—which administers CEPF—have long been allies in global wildlife conservation.
What we have always admired about BirdLife is the extraordinary quality of its science. We are not alone in repeatedly making use of seminal BirdLife documents such as Threatened Birds of the World and, of course, the detailed Red Data Books.
This guide launched today clearly articulates a major suite of key actions required to conserve the rarest bird species and most threatened avian habitats in Asia.
CEPF is very proud to have joined the Government of Japan in supporting BirdLife in the production of this guide.
The project is also a solid addition to the CEPF portfolio. To date, we are supporting more than 110 civil society partners in implementing conservation projects in 20 countries.
In Asia specifically we have invested more than $23 million in Sumatra, the Philippines and China. We have just expanded into the Caucasus in July and are preparing to extend our reach to additional Asian hotspots.
You have already heard today from the Government of Japan - one of five CEPF partners. I am pleased that two of our other partners—the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank—could be with us on this important occasion. I would now like to introduce Mr. Michael Carroll of the World Bank and Mr. Gonzalo Castro of the Global Environment Facility Secretariat.
Michael Carroll, The World Bank
Your Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:
It is with great pleasure that I am here representing The World Bank in this important event, which highlights the relevance of partnerships between development agencies, governments and private sector organizations to address the challenging objectives of sustainable development. In this context, it is a privilege to join the Government of Japan, the GEF, Conservation International and BirdLife International and all of you for the launch of this new publication, Saving Asia's Threatened Birds.
The World Bank Group represents the world's largest source of development assistance. Our mission is to fight poverty for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.
Concern for environmental sustainability within developing countries is an intrinsic part of our mission. In July 2001, the Bank approved a new Environmental strategy which outlines renewed mechanisms to work with client countries to address their environmental challenges and promote projects and programs to integrate principles of environmental sustainability. Our current active portfolio of projects with environmental objectives and components represents 13.4 percent of the total portfolio of $94.7 billion. In Financial Year 2003, 52 new projects with environmental objectives have been approved, representing $1.1 billion in new lending.
Private-public partnerships such as the CEPF, present one of the most promising mechanisms to enable change and to leverage local financial and political commitment. Thanks to the vision and support of its partners, in a short period of time the CEPF has evolved from an innovative idea into a concrete reality, with tangible results on the ground in hotspots located not only in Eastern and Southern Asia, but also in Africa, Latin and Central America, and Eastern Europe. The CEPF is developing sustainable mechanisms to address biodiversity conservation while respecting the needs and interests of the people and communities, thus advancing the objective of mainstreaming biodiversity into the broader development and poverty alleviation agenda, a key element of the Bank's environmental strategy.
As a partner of the CEPF, I feel that the guide being launched today represents a highly significant example of the numerous contributions CEPF is making to the sustainable conservation of biodiversity in the most threatened regions of the planet. This new guide has been prepared by BirdLife international, a stellar organization recognized throughout the Bank for its work and values. The comprehensive guide launched today condenses a vast amount of information into an easy format. It will enable decision-makers and civil society to develop shared strategies and to take effective action to safeguard the more than 300 threatened birds of Asia and the ecosystems and sites that support them.
Gonzalo Castro, GEF Secretariat
Your Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here representing the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF is the largest international multilateral organization providing funds to address global environmental issues.
Since 1991, the GEF has provided more than US$5 billion to support projects in biodiversity, climate change, international waters, and land degradation.
The GEF is particularly pleased that this event takes place in Tokyo, given Japan's leading role in support of the GEF and the global environment.
Our support to the CEPF, in which Japan is also a partner, is a good example of the broad cooperation needed to address the challenges of biodiversity loss. Through the CEPF, we have supported innovative forms of partnerships such as this one in which this important guide has been produced.
Given the tremendous importance of the key habitats and ecosystems present in this part of the world, the guide will serve to energize and promote effective conservation in support of nature and the people and societies that depend on these resources.
We wish to congratulate BirdLife for this exciting initiative and look forward to supporting its implementation in the years to come.