WLI World March 2022
Issue 25 of WLI World: you can both download as PDF to print, or view story-by-story here. Open each story by tapping on its title.
Welcome to the WLI World Bulletin for March 2022. Since we last met, the New Year has begun and we experienced the first United Nations World Wetlands Day. In the USA, local kids learned how to make animations, and about wetlands at the same time.
We also have a guest interview on the day’s events. Mina Guli is an ultra-marathon runner and water ampaigner. For World Wetlands Day she organised the World Wetlands Run. The activity was a social media hit! Thank you Mina for the interview.
And thank you to the staff of WWT Washington Wetland Centre in the UK for the great cover photo of their World Wetlands Run. Lots of news in brief this time too. From Salem Ornithological Foundation breaking records, to fish migration, and calls for your to join in over the year ahead.
We have two species-based conservation items for you: we hear about the community engagement involved in protecting not a bird or typically cuddly animal, but a crocodile! Finally, we close out with a colouring-in sheet from Project Godwit in the UK. We would like to feature more such resources directly in WLI World, so if you would like to share something suitable for printing on one page, let us know!
A year ago we mentioned that we were developing an accreditation scheme for wetland visitor centres. We have now launched it, as the Star Wetland Centre Awards!
We are welcoming applications via the WLI website until the end of April. The panel of judges will convene over the following months to assess the applications, and we hope to announce the winners during the Ramsar COP, in Wuhan, China, in late November.
To help us evaluate the process, and optimise it for next time, this year we are limiting the scheme to 12 awards.
Have you seen it yet? To celebrate 30 years of the network, we commissioned an artwork that captures the spirit of what we all do.
The artist, Seppo, has made wetland-themed art for the Ramsar Convention, WWF, and some WLI members.
From one basic scene, we have many variations: the wetland can be temperate, tropical, or mangrove. The text can explain the circled invertebrates, every animal, or none. There is also a layer showing the threats to wetlands, and the damage they do.
WLI members in the East Atlantic Flyway, as part of the regional group Migratory Birds for People, have been gathering binoculars and telescopes to donate to fellow0members in West Africa. Shipping can be difficult so are very grateful when people can bring some out in person. Conservation Without Borders have done just that! Pictured here, Sacha Clements on a preparatory visit for their Flight of the Osprey expedition with WLI member Commandant Pathé Baldé of the Kalissaye Ornithological Reserve.
Last year we set about gathering simple ideas that work in communicating about wetlands. We called it ’30 Ideas’. We haven’t quite made it to 30, so if you have a technique you would like to share, have a look at the website where you can download the template and contribute to his succinct guide to wetland CEPA techniques.
Join us in a new webinar designed just for you! On June 8 2022, we will present a webinar in a new style.
Rather than just a PowerPoint presentation, we will start with a conversation between two very knowledgeable wetland centre designers: Anna Wilson, former Principal Consultant at WWT will meet Gordon Lescinsky of Hobsons Bay Wetland Centre, which is still being developed.
We will also hear from Chris Rostron, Head of WLI, to look at what Ramsar COP can mean to you as a wetland visitor centre.
We will also have three WLI member presentations.
We will present the whole webinar three times; one subtitles in English, one in French, and one in Spanish.
Find out more on the WLI website.
We want to hold multiple video conferences with schools and WLI members, to celebrate World Migratory Birds Day.
Are you interested in taking part? Get in touch!
Around the second Saturday in both May and October, we hope to connect schools within the same flyways by video conference. If you have a good relationship with a school, we can try to pair you with another such wetland centre in the same flyway. Then you arrange a visit (whether virtual or in-person) to teach the children about bird migration. A week or so later, everyone goes online to share the learning with other schoolchildren in another country. The children love it!
We have prepared an outline document you can present to schools who might be interested. Find it on the WLI website by searching for Connecting Birds and Schools.
Asian Waterbird Census 2022
We successfully completed surveying more than 300 wetland habitats across Salem district in January. We started to analyse the data and are hoping to publish the detailed results by the end of March or sometime in April.
Namakkal Wetland Bird Census
Namakkal is a neighbouring district near Salem. Namakkal Forest Division organised a wetland bird census for the first time there and SOF was called in to coordinate the census in 18 wetlands of Namakkal. We recorded 137 species including 47 waterbird species and counted more than 33,800 birds overall.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is an event that is close to our hearts; many people here picked up birding because of GBBC and we have so much fun during those four days. I am happy to inform you that Salem is the number one county/district in the world to have submitted the maximum number of eBird checklists in GBBC 2022.
MoU with DIET, Salem
We are gearing up to implement CEPA in our region. SOF signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) in Salem. The DIET is an authorized government institute that is responsible for providing training to teachers related to teaching and learning activities and thus achieve the aim of generalization of elementary education. To begin with, SOF will implement the CEPA activities in the schools of Salem. DIET will help us in facilitating the necessary contacts and sources in schools. It is a non-financial MoU.
Every two years the World Fish Migration Foundation runs a day of events to excite the public and protect rivers. Their website has a great selection of toolkits for education and online use, infographics, and factsheets.
This time, they will also run a contest for people to draw fish flags. It aims to be a loud, proud, and engaging way to spread the message about migratory fish, free-flowing rivers, and World Fish Migration Day! They hope to see submissions from thousands of young artists around the world this year, and encourage them to fly their fish flags on World Fish Migration Day.
The contest is free to enter, and is open to children aged 5-18 from anywhere in the world. It will culminate in a live event on World Fish Migration Day, broadcast from Portugal, The Netherlands, and the USA, where they will announce the winning fish flags.
Check out worldfishmigrationday.com
Did you hear about the World Wetlands Run? People around the world signed up and ran or walked in the days around 2 February. We asked the created of the event, Mina Guli, more about it, in this special guest interview.
Mina Guli from Melbourne, Australia is the founder and CEO of Thirst Foundation and a global leader committed to protecting the world’s water resources. Following a successful 15-year career in law, finance and climate change, in 2012 Mina established Thirst Foundation, a non-profit organisation focused on raising awareness, creating urgency and driving action on water.
Mina is a self-confessed "non-runner" who has run 100s of marathons on every continent of the planet including Antarctica, leveraging the power of the media to connect us to the water crisis, and building a global movement of passionate water advocates in over 190 countries around the world.
Mina has committed her life to the water crisis because she believes we can be the solution. For more information visit www.minaguli.com.
What was the World Wetlands Run?
The World Wetlands Run was a virtual global run held by Thirst Foundation from 2 – 5 February to raise awareness for wetlands and to celebrate World Wetlands Day on 2 February.
Why are people running for wetlands?:
There was participation from every corner of the world running for wetlands because wetlands are essential in so many places and to so many people. People from 170 countries and territories participated in the World Wetlands Run organised by Thirst Foundation. Collectively, these amazing water warriors covered over 240,400 kilometres to raise awareness for our world’s wetlands.
The Thirst Foundation runs for water because the world runs on water. Most people aren't aware of the water crisis - it is invisible - and therefore people are not acting in a way that can help solve it. The first step in solving the water crisis is raising awareness of the issue – but what is really needed is action and running is one way people can raise awareness and take action.
The Thirst Foundation holds global running activations to bring people from around the world together virtually to move as one for water. I personally run because I have seen that we are in the middle of a global water crisis and I want the world to see it and to take action. I have run on every continent of the planet including Antarctica and have my biggest running expedition coming up so keep an eye out for that on minaguli.com.
Wetlands play an essential part for our planet. They protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality alongside supporting diverse wildlife. Unfortunately they are declining globally, both in area and in quality. We urgently need to address behaviours that are contributing to their decline and the wildlife that live in and around wetlands. The World Wetlands Run is an event to raise awareness for this decline and the impact this decline is already having.
The World Wetlands Run was a huge hit – what’s the secret behind its success?
There are a few contributing factors to the success of the World Wetlands Run. The main being because wetlands are so important to many people in so many places. All of our runs are free and virtual so anyone from anywhere could participate and you don't need to be a runner - you can still be part of our runs regardless of how you move. And finally because through our social media channels people can come together with others from around the world united by a common goal.
Can we look forward to another World Wetlands Run? Or other campaigns that wetland visitor centres can engage with?
In addition to the World Wetlands Run, Thirst Foundation holds 5 other activations annually to raise awareness around water-related issues. Please see below for more information:
1. World Water Run (16-22 March) for World Water Day (22 March)
2. World River Run (1-5 June) for Global Running Day (first Wednesday in June)
3. World Zero Waste Run (4-7 August) for Plastic Free July
4. Sweat4Soap Run (10-15 October) for Global Handwashing Day (15 October)
5. World Climate Run (10-13 November) for the annual UN Climate Change Conference
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thirst Foundation and I have some big plans in the lead up to the first conference on water in almost 50 years – the United Nations (UN) Water Conference being held at the UN in New York City next World Water Day (22 March 2023). I invite you to follow Thirst Foundation (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and me, Mina Guil (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), on social media so you can be among the first to know.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center (Great Bend, Kansas, USA) located at Cheyenne Bottoms, is the largest wetland complex in the interior of the United States. We celebrated World Wetlands Day throughout the month of February by having area middle school students create stop-animation commercials.
Using the materials from worldwetlandsday.org, as well as information about local wetlands, and props of wetland backgrounds, plants, and animals, 527 students created 105 commercials.
Rob Penner, Avian Conservation Manager for The Nature Conservancy provided a pizza party for the commercial he thought best shared the wetlands and Cheyenne Bottoms’ story. Here is a link to his favorite: https://youtu.be/xoOFSXxpafg
Students learned that wetlands are biodiversity hotspots, freshwater stores, and carbon sinks, but are disappearing at a rate three times that of forests. Products the students created were meant to inspire viewers to #ActForWetlands and to value, manage, and restore wetlands.
Cheyenne Bottoms is a Wetland of International Importance and a globally important stopover for thousands of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. The site also supports many threatened or endangered birds during nesting, staging, or wintering periods. Cheyenne Bottoms is one of the top migratory shorebird staging areas in the United States, with 10 species of shorebirds having a significant percentage of their populations stopping at Cheyenne Bottoms in a given year.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is dedicated to educating the public about wetland communities, their importance, and the need for conservation and restoration.
The crocodile (Gando) or short snout with the English name "Mugger" and the scientific name Crocodylus Palustris is a unique species that belongs to the Indian subcontinent and its distribution in Iran mainly is in the southeast. Gando lives in Bahu Estuary International Wetland and Gwater bay, which is located in the southeast of Iran in Sistan and Baluchestan province. Due to the importance of this species as the only crocodiles in Iran, it has been put on the national endangered reptile list and a nationally protected species.
As in other parts of the world, different species of crocodiles may create conflicts with local people in the form of attacks on humans and livestock of villagers. This underscores the importance of managing this issue, which is directly related to Gando’s protection.
The overall objectives of this project were to lay the groundwork and empower local communities to achieve examples of wise use of facilities, especially when it comes to helping protect Gando near Bahu Estuary, and Gwater Bay.
The project also sought to
- Reduce habitat degradation and increase conservation measures
- Raise awareness at all national, regional, and local levels to protect regionally important species such as Gando
- Build capacity to develop responsible tourism based on Gando and its surrounding environment
- Provide opportunities for the exchange of information about Gando and its habitat,
- Develop the necessary capabilities and skills of stakeholders (individual and groups) to motivate them to participate in the protection of endangered Gando species
- Reduce pressure on wetland biological resources
Moreover, it worked towards new strategies to make sustainable use of the wetland resources and an ecological approach to the conservation of the wetland.
Finding the Reasons for Conflicts
Our team held training sessions for selected target groups such as students and local people in villages which according to surveys, had the highest level of conflict in recent years (Dargas, Hoot Kat Bala, Hoot kat Payeen, Kahirborz, Kahnani Kash and Bahukalat).
After conducting the necessary training, distributing educational items, and reviewing the results of the relevant questionnaires, we saw an increase of awareness among trained people about recognizing this species and reducing the conflict between humans and Gandos.
This is achieved by reviewing the existing problems and obtaining solutions: developing infrastructure facilities conducting educational programs for different age groups.
Through those preparations we identified the most important ways to reduce Gando conflicts: providing facilities and ways to access water supply for drinking and other daily uses on one hand, and establishing resident facilitators for continuous training, on the other hand.
Gando and Local People
The implementation stages of this project were planned based on people's cooperation.
The activities were diverse, including: a training workshop for stakeholders on the ecological services of Gando and its habitat; a joint workshop with stakeholders on receiving and aggregating ideas; and publishing educational content in different forms.
Then we supported the construction of information boards and an ecotourism pavilion and information centre in Bahukalat village as a tourism target village based on Gando ecological services.
Other approaches included: marketing and connecting local ecotourism to the market to attract tourists and sell products; run a one-day program called with Gando; a visit to the research station; a visit to the ecotourism house and handicraft exhibition; and exchanges on the experience of living near Gando habitat and local and indigenous games.
With the implementation of these plans, it is expected that the conflict cases will be reduced to a minimum in these areas and this experience can be used as a model in crocodile habitats as well as other endangered species in Iran.