AEWA: Conservation Guidelines No. 12 – Guidelines on measures needed to help waterbirds to adapt to climate change spacer


Climate change is today considered to be the world’s biggest environmental challenge. The warming of the climate is an undisputed fact and it is very likely that the Earth’s rising temperature over the last half-century has been induced largely by anthropogenic activities. The latter now also extend to other climate-related aspects such as sea-level rise, temperature extremes and wind patterns. Wetlands, and hence the waterbirds which depend on them, are particularly sensitive to climate change. While mitigation is the only long-term solution to the problem, adaptation measures are an important means to help waterbirds cope with the challenges of climate change.

According to Article II of the Agreement text Parties are to “take co-ordinated measures to maintain migratory waterbird species in a favourable conservation status or to restore them to such a status”. Article III obliges them to “investigate problems that are posed or are likely to be posed by human activities and endeavour to implement remedial measures, including habitat rehabilitation and restoration, and compensatory measures for loss of habitat”. While neither article explicitly refers to climate change, they oblige Parties to take measures to combat adverse effects, including climate change, on waterbirds.

The present guidelines introduce five major steps that are required to help waterbirds adapt to climate change. These steps include, inter alia, the identification of species and populations most at risk from climate change, the preparation of a priority list of key sites, and the implementation of adaptation management measures.

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