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Projects

The Republic of Azerbaijan is host to an amazing variety of migratory waterbirds. For example, more than 50 of the waterbird populations covered by AEWA concentrate in internationally important numbers in the Kizil Agach State 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. The Kizil Agach State Nature Reserve is currently also the only known regular wintering site of Lesser White-fronted Geese from the Western main sub-population, making it an extremely important area for the conservation of the species.

CONSERVATION OF THE LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE

A five-year EU LIFE+ project with the aim of safeguarding the Lesser White-fronted Goose along its European flyway was launched in September 2011. The project is being headed by the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) with a total of eight project partners from Greece, Bulgaria, Finland and Hungary as well as the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat.

Following the previous Lesser White-fronted Goose LIFE project which ended in 2009, the bulk of activities in the new project focus on the staging and wintering grounds of the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose sub-population in Europe. The total project budget amounts to roughly 2.280.000 €. The EU Commission is providing 73% of the funding with a substantial amount of co-funding (about 15% of the total budget) being provided by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.

Lesser White-fronted Geese from the Western Palearctic population are thought to both winter and in smaller numbers migrate through Ukraine. The species has sporadically been registered in Ukraine with flock numbers reaching up to 1000 individuals. Although monitoring of wintering waterbirds in the Azov-Black Sea region has been conducted regularly since the beginning of the 1980s there are no consecutive records of LWfG sightings. This is partially due to the fact that monitoring missions focusing on LWfG have not been conducted. In addition many IBA’s where geese are known to occur have thus far been excluded from the yearly censes.

Much is still unknown about the occurrence of Lesser White-fronted Geese in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whereas there are records of several thousand birds wintering there in the late 1970s, coverage has since been very sporadic and limited in extent. As part of the implementation of the AEWA Single Species Action Plan for the LWfG, the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat proposes to organize a 2-day workshop together with the appointed national focal points for the LWfG in Iran. The workshop would bring together government officials, hunters’ organizations, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders. The goal of the workshop is to start the process of drafting a national action plan for the LWfG in Iran and, in parallel, to launch conservation efforts for the LWfG as soon as possible. Initial discussions with the Iranian focal points have confirmed their interest in organizing such a workshop, which would take place at the end of 2011.

The Kostanay region in Northern Kazakhstan is the major stop-over area for waterbirds migrating from their Russian breeding grounds further to wintering areas to the west and further South. The area is particularly critical for globally threatened species such as the Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus). Hunting pressure on waterbirds is known to be extremely high in Kostanay. The area is vast and most wetland areas are commissioned out to private game reserves. In addition the key sites used by migratory waterbirds fluctuate from year to year depending on annual water levels making the enforcement of hunting legislation even more difficult. Cooperation with the local hunting authorities, game reserve management and owners as well as local hunters is key in tackling the threat of illegal hunting of threatened waterbirds in the region and one of the main goals of this project is to establish such cooperation.

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