Conserving Migratory Waterbirds and their Flyway | WWF Hong Kong

Conserving Migratory Waterbirds and their Flyway

	© Neil Fifer
Conserving Migratory Waterirds and their Flyways
© EAAFP Secretariat
As one of the nine global flyways, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway is crucial to the 50 million migratory waterbirds that travel through each year. WWF has been taking up a key conservation role through collaboration with other organizations and governments in the region.  

Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay lies at the heart of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), which extends 13,000 km from the Arctic Circle through Southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand. The EAAF is home to over 50 million migratory waterbirds from over 250 different populations. Each year these birds fly between their breeding and wintering grounds, and rely on a network of way stations to rest and feed before embarking on the next leg of their journey.

The population of waterbirds in the EAAF is under rapid decline due to loss of wetland habitats to development, pollution and hunting. To restore and maintain the integrity of the EAAF, WWF set up a number of projects and collaborated with other organizations as a member of the EAAF Partnership.

Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund: Conservation through empowerment and collaboration

The Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund was established in July 2005 to provide financial support for projects at sites of importance for migratory waterbirds (including seabirds) in Asia along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). 

Since its inception, it has supported more than 36 projects with far-reaching impact including: 
  • Training workshops in Mongolia, China, Thailand and Indonesia to improve waterbird monitoring skills of students, local NGOs, local communities, new surveyors and government officials. Regular monitoring work confirmed important sites for waterbirds in Kamchatka (Russia), Rudong (China), Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) and Deli Serdang (North Sumatra). 
  • Awareness raising activities – in the form of talks, exhibitions, workshops and field trips – benefited over 14,000 local communities and over 8,000 students and teachers. 
  • High involvement amongst the local community provides better protection for waterbirds. Locals would report cases of bird hunting and local hunters signed an agreement to protect waterbirds. Immediate increases in breeding success were observed in Red-crowned Crane at Hui River National Nature Reserve in Inner Mongolia; and Swan Geese and White-naped Crane at Daursky State Nature Reserve in Russia. 
  • The fund also helped places like Dashinchilen Tsagaan Wetlands in Mongolia to become an EAAF Network Site.
In late 2019, the AWCF was reformed and two new grants, the WWF Dr Lew young Grant and the Asian Flyways Initiative Grant (AFI Grant), were set up to extend the support from the EAAF to the Central Asian Flyway (CAF). The grants seek to support projects on the ground in Asia that will lead to the conservation of migratory waterbrids and their habitats in the EAAF and CAF, particularly through partnership with the local community at the site.

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Cooperation Projects

The experience gained from Mai Po is replicated in different important wetland sites in China. The management standard in these sites is raised and public awareness increased through management planning, habitat restoration, co-management with local communities and environmental education activities. Through cooperation with different protected areas, WWF hopes to establish good models for other wetland sites in mainland China.

2012-2017 Minjiang Estuary National Nature Reserve, Fujian Province

Being at the mid-way of  the EAAF, the Reserve is home to over 50,000 waterbird individuals and 14 globally threatened bird species, such as critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern (Thalasseus bernsteini) and Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus)
WWF is now providing guidance and support to the Reserve in habitat management, wise use of wetland resources and education for sustainable development.

For more information, please download the summary report

2005-2010 Zhangjiangkou National Mangrove Nature Reserve, Fujian Province 

The Reserve has the largest area of natural mangrove forest in Fujian Province with a wide variety of wildlife
  • Increased the number of waterbirds by 12 times because of the high-tide roosting site constructed;
  • Adverse effects on mudflat were reduced by encouraging the local people to  raise razor clam in ponds and introducing the use of less harmful insecticide in razor clam culture on mudflats;
  • Started education work at 11 local schools, reaching over 3,600 students and educators;
  • The Reserve was designated as a Ramsar site on 2 February 2008
For more information, please download the summary report.

2006-2012 Haifeng Bird Provincial Nature Reserve, Guangdong Province 

Over 20,000 migratory waterbirds use the Reserve as a wintering site, including rare birds such as Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Nordmann’s Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) and Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor)
  • In January 2009, the number of waterbirds found exceeded 60,000;
  • Successfully demonstrated that the net income of operating the traditional gei wai aquaculture method is higher so that the local pond operators were more willing to keep this waterbird-benefiting tradition;
  • Over 3,400 students from 6 local partner schools participated in the education activities;
  • Haifeng wetlands was designated as a Ramsar site on 2nd February 2008
For more information, please download the summary report.