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British Birdwatching Fair 2002 Record

Record Funds were raised for Sumatra Rainforest Project at last year`s Fair - ?146,900 for Sumatra`s Last Lowland Rainforests - 2003 Fair To Help Save Madagascar`s Fragile Wetlands?

London, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 10th February 2003 ? The British Birdwatching Fair. (BBWF) today presented BirdLife International with a cheque for a record ?146,900 (US$235,000) from last year`s Fair to fund BirdLife`s Saving Sumatra`s Last Lowland Rainforests project. Fair organisers also announced that this year they will raise funds for BirdLife to promote better protection of wetlands in Madagascar, one of the world`s potential global extinction hotspots. [A total of 27 globally threatened bird species and 14 near-threatened bird species occur in Madagascar. See Threatened Birds of the World, AJ Stattersfield and DR Capper (senior editors), Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, 2000].The British Birdwatching Fair is proud to donate a record ?146,900 to BirdLife International`s project to save the last remaining lowland rainforests in Sumatra, Indonesia. This money is also a yardstick of how incredibly important global bird conservation is to the 16,000 birdwatchers who visited the Fair at Rutland Water Nature Reserve in August 2002, said Fair co-organiser Tim Appleton, of the Leicestershire and Rutland and Wildlife Trust, who presented the cheque.Accepting the cheque for BirdLife International, Director & Chief Executive Dr Michael Rands, and former Indonesian Minister of the Environment and BirdLife Indonesia Board member, Dr Sonny Keraf, said The money raised is vital for the BirdLife Partnership to help save the last lowland rainforests of Sumatra. BirdLife International greatly thanks the British Birdwatching Fair and the thousands of people who visited last year`s Fair and yet again gave so generously.Indonesia has 117 globally threatened species, more than any other country in the world. Nowhere is the crisis facing Indonesia`s birds and forests more severe than on the island of Sumatra, where 78 of 102 local lowland forest dependent bird species are globally threatened or near-threatened. These rainforests face an unprecedented threat to their existence from logging and clearance for agriculture and exotic plantations. The World Bank has warned that Sumatra`s remaining lowland rainforests will virtually disappear by 2005 if current rates of logging continue.The money raised will fund targeted actions for conservation at five critical sites designed to reduce or halt illegal logging at these sites and forest exploitation adjacent to them. This will be achieved by promoting local stakeholder Site Support Groups, reporting on the situation and public awareness campaigns.BirdLife Indonesia has already carried out forest cover analysis based on satellite images, identified key sites and stakeholders, started to develop partnerships with local NGOs, organised a series of multi-stakeholder workshops and conducted a preliminary survey assessing bird and mammal species richness at a key lowland rainforest site, said Dr.Sonny Keraf. The 5 metre-long mural of the Sumatran rainforest, painted at the 2002 Bird Fair by many of the UK`s top wildife artists, will be on display before being shipped to Indonesia where it will be used to help raise awareness.The BBWF organisers also announced the 2003 Fair will raise funds for a new project, Saving Madagascar`s fragile wetlands. Madagascar has 37 globally threatened or near-threatened endemic bird species, more than any other African country. The high level of threat to its ecosystems, and the serious implications this has for its people, is universally recognised. In every analysis of global conservation needs, Madagascar is among the very highest priorities, said Fair co-organiser Martin Davies of the RSPB. The plight of Madagascar`s forests has been widely publicised, but its wetlands have not received as much attention. Two wetland-dependent Malagasy endemic bird species ? Madagascar Pochard and Alaotra Grebe ? may well have become extinct in the last 20 years. Six (55%) of eleven Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR) birds in Madagascar are wetland species, including the two possibly extinct species of Grebe and Pochard (treated as CR), plus the Sakalava Rail (CR), Madagascar Fish Eagle (CR), Madagascar Teal (EN) and Meller`s Duck (EN).The most critical wetlands are the great river systems of the west, especially the lower reaches and deltas of the Mahavavy and Mangoky Rivers, both of which are Important Bird Areas (IBAs) covering 2,500 km2 and 1,400 km2 respectively. Malagasy wetlands are vital for the local communities that depend on them for fishing and clean water with parts of these wetlands cultivated or used for livestock grazing. In the dry western part of Madagascar a human population map and wetland map would look similar, because people are concentrated around wetlands for these very reasons.However, as the pace of change in populations and land-use patterns in Madagascar has increased, these uses have been carried out in increasingly unsustainable ways, so that they have become threats to the wetlands themselves. Over fishing threatens fish stocks, hunting in general has become uncontrolled and agricultural expansion has sometimes been out of balance with maintenance of the natural functions of the wetlands. In addition, nearly all wetlands in Madagascar have been affected by invasive exotic species of plant and fish resulting in the extinction of several native species of fish, water bird and aquatic plant.The money raised at the 2003 Bird Fair will fund targeted actions for conservation at these two critical wetland complexes where BirdLife will work with local communities and government agencies to halt the loss of biodiversity while ensuring the sustainable benefits of the wetlands for local people. BirdLife will promote local stakeholder Site Support Groups that will create their own plans for the wetlands, including encouraging locally-driven nature-based tourism. Funds will also be used to promote wetland conservation nationally, and to improve capacity in Madagascar to plan and implement new wetland conservation programmes.For further information or an invitation to the presentation please contact Michael Szabo at BirdLife International on 01223 277318 or 07779 018 332 (mobile) or Martin Davies at RSPB on 01767 680551.

4th July 2014