The Waterbird Conservation for the Americas initiative was formed to address the specific conservation needs of waterbirds. This involves many opportunities and challenges because of the fundamental biology that unites these species…and sets them apart from other bird groups. Biological considerations include typically large ranges, shifting distributions, dependence on marine and other aquatic systems, long lifespans, and habits of coloniality or congregation.
All-Bird Conservation is Really Integrated Bird Conservation
Despite the resulting need for waterbird-specific, even species-specific, approaches, the fact is that waterbirds occur in habitats used by other birds and by people. Thus, the wisest course for conservation action is within the context of multi-species and multi-use management, which will increase efficiency and effectiveness while reducing costs.
Case Study: RICE, WATER and BIRDS
Means of Integration
In North America, the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas initiative complements initiatives for other bird groups, specifically the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, and the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and Canada Shorebird Conservation Plan. Effectively meeting the needs of multiple of these multiple species groups is the purpose of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.
Where human and financial resources are more limited, regional planners often choose to develop conservation action plans considering all aquatic birds at once. This is the case in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Moreover, a multi-species management approach underpins international coalitions and mechanisms such as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Treaty), Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative, and Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna. The Waterbird Conservation for the Americas initiative involves forging alliances under these programs, as well as with programs focused on specific taxonomic groups, such as the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and Agreement on Albatross and Petrels.
The multi-use approach to waterbird conservation involves reaching out to entities and programs focused on water supply, flood control, wetland protection, fisheries, and recreation.