Message from Jennifer Smart, Chair of the IWSG, on the war in Ukraine
The 21st April was World Curlew Day and it was really great to see the conservation efforts being celebrated and shared in the media to recognise the plight of this species but also highlighting the international collaborations that will be needed to save this species. I have also been watching with great interest the live news about the migration of the curlews that have been tagged on the Wash estuary in the UK this year and as ever, receiving many sightings of our black-tailed godwits as they return from west Africa through Europe and onto England to breed.
What this highlights to me is that the waders we all love have absolutely no idea about the international boundaries that they may cross as they move to and from their breeding and wintering areas. This causes me to reflect on those species which may be migrating through or, are resident in countries affected by the war in Ukraine. I have recently read a rather sobering document which was outlining the potential impacts of the war on birds in Ukraine which is home to 434 species, 18 globally threatened birds, 19 species for which the country hosts more than 15% of the European population and 141 Important Bird Areas covering 2.5 million hectares. The predictions of large-scale habitat loss and degradation, local extinctions, increased disturbance, pollution and hunting were stark but at the same time, I was inspired by the fact that amidst the war, conservationists in Ukraine are already thinking about the future needs of their species in their country and the role that nature will play in healing their country and people. I just want to say to all of our Wader Study group members affected by the war, that we are thinking about you, we hope you are all safe and once this war is over, which we hope will be very soon, our thoughts can turn to how we use our international networks and collaborations to help the global conservation effort that will be required.
Chair of the International Wader Study Group