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AEWA Accession Meeting and Lesser White-fronted Goose Workshop held in Azerbaijan

Bonn, 6 June 2011 - The Republic of Azerbaijan is host to an amazing variety of migratory waterbirds. More than 50 of the waterbird populations covered by AEWA concentrate in internationally important numbers in the Kizil Agach Nature Reserve which borders the Caspian Sea in southern Azerbaijan, making it one of the most important sites for migratory waterbirds in the Agreement area.
As Azerbaijan is not yet a Party to the Agreement, the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat organized a meeting at the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan in Baku on the 26th of May to follow up on accession discussions launched with the country several years ago. Ministry representatives confirmed that the accession process is ongoing and estimated that - depending on when a final sign off by the Cabinet of Ministers is obtained - AEWA could be ratified by the Parliament and signed by the President within a year. The Secretariat underlined that it would be very good if Azerbaijan would accede to the Agreement in time for the next Meeting of the AEWA Parties to be held in May 2012 in France.

Following the accession meeting representatives also took part in a two-day workshop (26th-27th of May) on the Lesser White-fronted Goose (LWfG) with the aim to start the process of drafting a National Action Plan and setting up a National Working Group for the species. The workshop was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources - including LWfG national focal point Ms. Nigar Abdurahmanova - as well as representatives from relevant National Reserves and Parks and the Azerbaijan Ornithological Society. Drafting of the National Action Plan for the LWfG will be led by Mr. Elchin Sultanov of the Azerbaijan Ornithological Society in close cooperation the Ministry and all other stakeholders.

Participants concluded that the main threats to the LWfG in Azerbaijan are illegal hunting and changes in habitat management. The conservation of the species in the country is hampered by gaps in key knowledge and insufficient human resources and capacity. So far the LWfG has not been included in the national Red Data Book for threatened species, but it will be included in the updated version which is expected to be adopted next year.

Kizil Agach Nature Reserve was recognized as the most important site for migrating/wintering LWfG in Azerbaijan. Further management measures need to be undertaken as a matter of priority in the Reserve in order to ensure that the LWfG are fully protected from poaching in the area and that sufficient suitable feeding habitat is available. Monitoring needs to be increased substantially and Reserve Wardens need to be supplied with proper equipment as well as training in bird identification and monitoring practices - with a focus on the identification and monitoring of LWfG.

The UNEP/AEWA Secretariat looks forward to enhancing its cooperation with Azerbaijan and hopes to welcome Azerbaijan as a Contracting Party to the Agreement soon.

The accession meeting and subsequent workshop were kindly funded by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.

For further information please contact: Ms. Nina Mikander, Coordinator for the Lesser White-fronted Goose