The Balkan region hosts several wetlands of international importance (Ramsar Sites) which represent crucial stop-over sites for migratory birds. Each year, however, birds need to overcome several threats and risks, especially along the Adriatic flyway, caused by degradation and loss of wetlands as well as by irresponsible hunting activities.
Together with a wide partner network across the Balkans, EuroNatur and the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia (BPSSS, BirdLife Serbia) implemented the third phase of the Adriatic Flyway project from 19 to 23 March 2018 in Fruška Gora National Park (Serbia).
Officials of the Government of Serbia and more than 80 experts from over fifteen NGOs from central and southeastern European countries involved in bird conservation participated in the 3rd Adriatic Flyway Conference.
The conference provided a unique opportunity for participants to share experiences and best practices, to discuss the conservation status of migratory bird populations and their ecological dynamics in the Balkans and the Adriatic Flyway Region. and to present recent findings on the monitoring of these species.
Each year, particularly during migration periods, bird populations are dramatically depleted by illegal killing of birds.
“The pace of decline of migratory bird populations in the Balkans is very worrying,” said Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur. “We consider illegal killings, unlawful trade in birds, unsustainable hunting, and habitat destruction along the Adriatic Flyway to be the main causes. We call on the competent authorities to step up criminal prosecution.”
According to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the conference evaluated the impacts of poisoning of migratory birds and other forms of illegal killing, and presented strategies for NGOs’ work to collect the relevant data and address these issues in collaboration with national authorities. It adopted the Fruška Gora Declaration, which expresses strong concerns about the dramatic impacts of illegal killing and poisoning of wild birds. It calls on the Governments of Balkan countries to increase their efforts in tackling these illegal activities by appropriate law enforcement.
Counts of wintering water birds in the region show decreasing trends in several important wintering sites.
Dr Tilman Schneider, Associate Programme Officer, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, said: “With its outstanding diversity of wild birds and their habitats, the Adriatic Flyway region is of crucial significance for the survival of African-Eurasian migratory bird populations. Considering the dramatic decline of many populations, threats such as habitat loss as well as illegal killing, poisoning and illicit trade require resolute actions of Governments and stakeholders in the frame of international cooperation. CMS will support the countries in their efforts to conserve wild birds along the Adriatic Flyway, which play a vital role for the functioning of ecosystems and therefore a sustainable future for wildlife and people.”
Side events were organized during the conference, including an advisory meeting by the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat for Governments and other delegates from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the accession to the Agreement and its implementation. The Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) launched the kick-off meeting for its new Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project (BAPP) funded by the MAVA Foundation, which aims to secure real and continued engagement of the relevant national authorities against illegal poisoning and increase their capacity to counteract it. The 4th Adriatic Flyway Project 2018-2022 was launched at the conference as well.
Christian Stielow, EuroNatur