Europe's rarest songbird, the Aquatic Warbler, will be better protected following decisions taken at a key meeting of the UN Environment Programme's Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
The meeting in Biebrza National Park (Poland) agreed to extend the geographical coverage of the CMS Agreement on the Aquatic Warbler (which originally comprised 15 countries) to include seven new countries in Europe and Africa along the migration route of the Aquatic Warbler and in its wintering areas in sub-Sahelian Africa: Luxembourg, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Slovakia and Switzerland.
The meeting also adopted a new International Species Action Plan for the Aquatic Warbler, prepared by CMS's partner BirdLife International on behalf of the European Union. It will help to protect the Aquatic Warbler throughout its range and help its breeding populations expand to sites that had been lost in the past.
In addition to giving a detailed account of the distribution, biology and conservation status of the bird species, the plan envisages concrete actions to be taken by the countries. Governments are committed to adopt wildlife laws to safeguard the bird species, its breeding sites and winter quarters along its migration route. Research and monitoring will help track population trends and identify new wintering areas. The discovery of the only wintering site in Senegal in 2007 is a milestone towards long term conservation efforts under CMS.
CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema said: 'We must redouble our efforts to protect this unique songbird. New concerted actions in Europe and Africa to save this most endangered bird species during the International Year of Biodiversity will also maintain the crucial wetlands on which so many other species depend.'