In October, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) attended an International Workshop in the Philippines to discuss ways to educate the community about the importance of wetlands as habitat for migratory birds, some of which travel thousands of kilometres each year to escape the hardships of the northern hemisphere winter. The Workshop was organised by the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAFFP), an international organisation that oversees the East Asian Australasian migratory bird flyway. Twenty-two countries span the length of this flyway, from the northern hemisphere in Siberia to the southern hemisphere in Australia. Ten organisations from different countries along the length of the flyway were invited to attend the workshop in the Philippines including Australia represented by PHCC.
The three-day workshop brought organisations together to share their ideas to raise awareness about migratory birds, including educational programs, citizen science projects and on ground conservation action. Each organisation presented case studies to the group to share their success stories. PHCC presented “The Wetlands and People CEPA Plan”. The Wetlands and People Plan, released in 2017, is a Communication Education Participation and Awareness plan for the Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands System which is recognised as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The plan is the first of its kind in Australia and one of only two world-wide for a Ramsar site, and is used to promote the wise use of wetlands.
During the workshop, the group were taken for a tour of Manila’s Ramsar Wetland Las Piñas–Parañaque and were able to witness first-hand the threats the wetland faces. The most severe problem is plastic pollution with large quantities of plastic bottles, bags and other litter contaminating the shorelines of the wetland. It has been an ongoing battle that requires frequent clean-up work by ground crews and installation of nets along the shorelines in an attempt to prevent litter entering the wetland. One of the goals of the workshop was to discuss what theme could be embraced to drive a joint project to improve the condition of the flyaway. Concerned by the worldwide environmental issues created by plastic pollution, PHCC submitted a global proposal around the theme of reducing marine debris. This proposal impressed the EAAFP which recently announced that the theme for World Migratory Bird Day for 2019 will be Plastic Pollution.
Kim Wilson, PHCC Special Project Manager who attended the workshop said “’The amount of knowledge gained here has been enormous. There have been exciting discussions about starting sister school and sister site projects with other organisations along the flyway and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with those we met at this event to turn these ideas into reality.”’
The team spent their last day in Manila attending an education event hosted by National Geographic-Asia, the EAAFP, and Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands. Fifteen schools from Manila were present and approximately one hundred and twenty students attended. The journey of Migratory Birds was told by representatives from Alaska, Philippines, Myanmar, and Australia. PHCC was proud to represent Australia and share the story of the miraculous journey of the Red-necked Stint, the world’s tiniest shorebird. Weighing around 25grams, this amazing bird travels 12,500km from Siberia to Mandurah each year arriving in the Peel-Yalgorup Wetland in October.
Jan Star, PHCC Acting Chair commented “PHCC is honoured to have represented Australia at the EAAFP Workshop sharing knowledge of our local activities and the Wetlands and People CEPA Action Plan. The team had a wonderful experience and the workshop has allowed them to share local successes with a much wider audience across the Flyway and learn from a global community. We plan to share our learnings with stakeholders, broader community in the Peel Region. Nationally to enhance community programs for our internationally recognised, Ramsar site here in Mandurah.”
For more information about Migratory Birds and opportunities to been involved in programs that protect them contact Peel-Harvey Catchment Council on (08) 6369 8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Media Contact: Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800