Big steps forward for waterbird & wetland monitoring in the Arabian Peninsula

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The coastal wetlands of the Arabian Peninsula are important habitats for migratory waterbirds from Central Asia, Eastern African and Europe. Building on the regional strategy developed in 2018, major steps were taken in the development of regional waterbird and wetland monitoring at a workshop in Sharjah, U.A.E. The latest workshop included a training of trainers and a commitment to next steps for better monitoring in the region.

Improving knowledge of waterbird numbers and the condition of their wetland sites is important for national, regional and international conservation efforts. Capacity has improved substantially in the region over the last decade, with several countries implementing or reinvigorating their IWC counting efforts. This workshop brought together experts from the U.A.E, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman to agree on expanding IWC coverage in the next 3 years, implement surveys of breeding water- and seabird colonies and assess the threats and condition of wetlands in the region. Supported by trainers from Wetlands International European Association, BirdLife Middle East and regional organisations, the national experts were introduced to training packages, international monitoring standards and data management procedures. This will help strengthen national networks for waterbird and wetland monitoring and ensure the information collected will support rapid and accurate national and regional assessments.

Wetlands International European Association and BirdLife Middle East will continue to support the regional experts in planning for these important activities. We are very grateful to the Environmental and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) of Sharjah for their support and facilitation of this workshop, as well as the trainers Mohammed Shobrak (Saudi Wildlife Authority), Szabolcs Nagy (Wetlands International Associate Expert), Nabegh Ghazal Asswad (BirdLife International Middle East), Jacky Judas (Emirates-Wildlife Society/ World Wildlife Fund-EWS/WWF), John Pereira (EPAA), Brendan Jones (EPAA) and Junid Nazeer Shah (Ajaz Environmental Consultants). Participation of Wetlands International European Association staff was supported by EPAA and the European Union NGO Life Grant.