Connector Newsletter Issue 27

Birds and Biospheres

October 12, 2020

There are currently 701 Biospheres across the globe (4 in Australia) in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program. At a meeting later next year that might become 702, if the Sunshine Coast’s application is approved.

There are Biospheres up and down the East Asian Australasian Flyway. This is the path taken by Western Port’s 35+ migratory bird species as they fly between their northern summer breeding grounds and their southern summer feeding grounds.

There has been a serious decline in the population numbers of many of these migratory shorebirds. Many fly between Australia and their first landfall in Taiwan, refuel there, then perhaps go on to Japan, Korea or China, with short stops to feed before finishing in Siberia or Alaska to breed. It is on those landfalls that they face significant challenge.

Firstly, there is less land on which to fall as reclamation of marshes and mudflats for farmland gathers pace. Without mudflats, there is no mud to harbour their food species so they deplete their energy reserves. They are also directly hunted. If these species are to survive, let alone thrive, we have to become better at their conservation. People everywhere along the flyway need to know about them, value them, and then very importantly, do something to protect them.

With the network of Biospheres along the Flyway, each with its engaged community, we have a chance to join in collaboration to communicate the wonder of these species. We can share the challenges that they face and present the strategies we are implementing to care for and protect them. We can learn from the successes of others and we can offer our own approaches.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership is already carrying out conservation projects for the birds that use the flyway. Our region’s network of UNESCO Biospheres has audiences ready for collaboration for this important work. These bird species, with their awe-inspiring migration flights, help us realise the value of the region’s Biospheres.

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