New migratory shorebirds plan to help protect some of Australia’s favourite overseas visitors

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment, Government of Australia


Press release

The Australian Government is today launching a new plan to help protect 35 species of shorebirds that regularly travel thousands of kilometres to visit our shores.

Shorebirds such as the female Bar-tailed Godwit match the incredible long-haul range of an Airbus A380. We want to be there for the long-haul too, supporting their conservation.

The new Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds, launched in Melbourne with Birdlife Australia, identifies what more we need to do in partnership with our regional neighbours such as Japan, China and the Republic of Korea to safeguard migratory species.

Each year Australia becomes the home of migratory shorebirds such as the Grey Plover, Red Knot and Common Sandpiper during their non-breeding season.

These birds rely on Australia’s coastal and freshwater wetlands as places to rest and feed, with some travelling up to 11,500 kilometres non-stop to get here.

But the perilous nature of migration, where birds cross multiple national boundaries, means shorebirds face a multitude of threats.

The new plan recognises that populations of some of these shorebirds are in decline, and there is a growing need to reduce the threats to their habitat.

This is critical for the continued survival of these birds.

Conserving migratory shorebirds requires coordination and cooperation between countries along their migration route, and this plan provides the foundation for our engagement in various international forums such as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway extends from breeding grounds in the Russian tundra,
Mongolia, and Alaska southwards through east and south-east Asia, to non-breeding areas in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

This plan is guiding our bilateral talks with Japan, China and the Republic of Korea on how threats to migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region can be managed with the help of local communities.

The Australian Government is already hard at work delivering on several priorities under the updated plan, including preparations for hosting Australia’s bilateral migratory bird consultative meetings in October.

We take our global obligations to these shorebirds seriously, having included 20 internationally important wetlands that they use in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway Site Network over the past decade.

This year, we also announced $200,000 for a National Environmental Science Programme project with BirdLife Australia to better understand our country’s spectacular waterbirds and shorebirds.

The Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds is available online at:

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