World Migratory Bird Day 2024

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The CIC joins in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2024!

Hosted bi-annually, WMBD is an initiative of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) which aims to raise awareness of the importance of migratory birds and their conservation. AEWA and the CIC have a long-standing relationship, with the CIC holding International Observer Status, as well as a permanent seat on the AEWA Technical Committee.

2024 brings about a unique WMBD campaign which underscores the role of insects in supporting migratory bird populations as part of its theme.

Recognising insects as a vital energy source – especially during extensive migratory journeys along the flyways – the campaign highlights the decline in insect populations worldwide.

Birds traversing migratory flyways actively seek out insects along their routes. The loss and destruction of insect habitats due to factors such as intensive agriculture, urban development, and pesticide use are threatening bird populations.

This greatly disrupts the timing, duration, and overall success of bird migrations, while having knock on effects on their overall health and breeding seasons.

As part of WMBD 2024, AEWA have urged people to embrace proactive conservation measures, such as reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, promoting organic farming practices, and preserving natural habitats critical for migratory birds’ survival.

Hunters emerge as vital stakeholders in this narrative. We have talked previously about the role that hunters play in removing invasive predators in wetlands – which are key sites along flyway routes – while providing resting and feeding areas for birds.

At the recent 70th CIC General Assembly in Cascais, we also learned about how sustainable farming practices can showcase the symbiotic relationship between agriculture, hunting and biodiversity conservation, including insect health.

Péter Pál Hajas, a CIC Member and landowner from Hungary, detailed the sustainable practices he conducts on his family farm as part of an Applied Science Division session.

By dividing his larger fields into smaller lots, a focus is placed on conserving natural habitats while improving connectivity.

Ecosystem services are provided by enhancing the margins on the farm with flowers, which boosts pollination and supports insect populations.

The increased connectivity and biodiversity has the further benefit of attracting game species, with hunting activities taking place on the farm to help subsidize the loss of funds by introducing margins in place of crops.

There are numerous opportunities to implement similar initiatives across the globe, given the number of biodiversity supporting features we have lost in our rural areas.

In France alone – for example – there has been a 70% decrease in the number of hedges since 1950. This led to the creation of the Hedgerows Close to Home project by the Yves Rocher Foundation and AFAC-Agroforesteries, which has planted 5 million trees to date to help combat the loss of hedges in France.

Such initiatives demonstrate how rewilding and nature-based solutions to environmental issues can bring about holistic benefits to biodiversity as a whole, including migratory birds.

Read more on the full Applied Science Division session here.