Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund (AWCF): Securing the future of our highflyers!

Along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, 36 and 19 species are globally threatened and near threatened respectively. On today’s Endangered Species Day, WWF-Hong Kong is pleased to announce that the Asian Flyways Initiative Grant (AFI Grant) will support researches on the critically endangered Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri; Figure 1) and near threatened Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel (Hydrobates monorhis; Figure 2) while the implementation of the seabird conservation action plan by Isla Biodiversity Conservation in the Philippines will be supported by Dr. Lew Young Grant. Both grants are under Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund (AWCF).

In the Baer’s Pochard project, researchers at the Qufu Normal University will identify the nesting locations of the pochard in Nanyang Lake in Shandong Province and estimate the breeding success by monitoring the number of chicks and their survival rate. Threats faced by this species during the breeding period such as by-catch in fish harvesting activities will also be investigated. Mr. Simba Chan, one of the Committee Members of AWCF commented “In my opinion, this is the most important application not only in this year but also in recent years. Shandong is important to Baer’s Pochard but the breeding sites there are not very well-known.”

For the Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel project, besides studying reproductive success, the Australasian Seabird Group will track 20 individuals from Chilbaldo, Ro Korea (also Flyway Network Site EAAF 107) with the use of geolocators to reveal the foraging locations during both breeding and non-breeding seasons. Dietary study will also be carried out. “Increased research on seabirds is urgently needed in the Yellow Sea. The work will build a better understanding of the potential impacts of expanding wind farms on seabirds.” said Mr. Doug Watkins, another Committee Members of AWCF and the Chief Executive of East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership Secretariat.

With the support from the Dr. Lew Young Grant 2021, Isla Biodiversity Conservation successfully organized the 1st National Seabird Forum and Action Planning Workshop in the Philippines in October 2021 with the participation of over 100 stakeholders from government, NGOs, academe and birdwatching groups and bird tour companies. A national action plan for the conservation of seabirds (2022-2026) was finalized and the coming project aims to collaborate, capacitate, and work with local stakeholders and national agencies in developing a national CEPA action plan and in piloting a training programme for seabird monitoring and research.

“AWCF aims to provide much-needed funding to fill the critical knowledge gap and catalyze pivotal action to conserve some of the most threatened migratory waterbird species in the region. Through the deep and extensive research and collaboration in these projects, we are hopeful that the bird populations can fly up high again in the near future.” Ms. Nicole Wong, CEO, WWF Hong Kong added.

Figure 1.  A family of Baer’s Pochard in Nanyang Lake, Shandong Province ©Xuefang Li

Figure 2.  A Swinhoe’s Storm-petrel’s nest ©Shinan County


Article prepared by Fion Cheung from AWCF Secretariat

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