ASEAN meeting highlights conservation of wetlands, protection of migratory birds

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Improving the conservation of wetlands and protection of migratory birds took center stage during the Second Meeting of the ASEAN Network on Wetlands and Migratory Water Birds Conservation (ASEAN Flyway Network).

Migratory birds wander in Manila Bay (RIO LEONELLE DELUVIO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Migratory birds wander in Manila Bay (RIO LEONELLE DELUVIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Wetlands are a critical part of the natural environment that protect shores from wave action and reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants, and improve water quality.

They provide habitat for birds, animals, and plants and many contain rich biodiversity. For birds, wetlands are sources for drinking water and serve as areas for shelter, breeding, nesting, interaction, and rearing their young.

Migratory birds are major players in the ecosystem as they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and consume insects and small mammals.

The ASEAN Flyway Network (AFN), composed of national focal points, flyway site managers, experts, and other key stakeholders, was established by the ASEAN member-states, serving as a virtual network that facilitates regional cooperation to ensure the conservation of the migratory waterbirds and the wetlands that support them along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

The AFN meeting held from May 13 to 15 in Malaysia provided an opportunity for implementers of the project on Improving Biodiversity Conservation of Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds in the ASEAN Region, an initiative supported by Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund and Philippines-based ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), and led by the National Parks Board of Singapore.

The participants discussed the implementation of surveys and activities conducted during the first phase of the project and sought recommendations on enhancing the capacity of site managers and other stakeholders in managing wetlands and migratory waterbirds, and on improving the communication, education, and public awareness of the values of migratory waterbirds and their habitats for the project’s second phase.

Countries that presented updates were Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the participants to share inputs and best practices in the region, which can be useful in designing phase 2 of the project.

Dr. Sheila Vergara, director of ACB’s Biodiversity Information Management Unit, shared the existing platform and other options on communication and information organization and management.

She also presented the clearing-house mechanism platform on the web and introduced the project website of ACB, citing as example, the ASEAN Heritage Parks.