What is the ASIAN WATERBIRD CENSUS?
Every January, thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia visit wetlands in their country and count waterbirds. This event is called the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), which is part of a global waterbird monitoring programme, the International Waterbird Census (IWC: see later section), coordinated globally by Wetlands International.
The AWC was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent and has grown rapidly to cover the region of Asia, from Afghanistan eastwards to Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia. It therefore includes the entire East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the southern part of the Central Asian Flyway. The AWC runs parallel to other regional programmes of the International Waterbird Census of waterbirds in Africa, Europe, West Asia, the Neotropics and the Caribbean.
The census has three major objectives:
- to obtain information on an annual basis of waterbird populations at wetlands in the region during the non-breeding period of most species (January), as a basis for evaluation of sites and monitoring of populations
- to monitor on an annual basis the status and condition of wetlands
- to encourage greater interest in waterbirds and wetlands amongst people, and thereby promote the conservation of wetlands and waterbirds in the region.
The AWC through its wide networks across the flyway strongly supports EAAF National Partners in meeting their commitments to ensure “National monitoring systems to assess the status of migratory waterbirds and their habitats are established, maintained and further enhanced” as prioritised under the EAAFP Strategic Plan 2019-2028.
The AWC also contributes valuable information to support reviews of population size estimates and trends that contribute to analyses such as the EAAF Conservation Status Review and global Waterbird Population Estimates. The waterbird population estimates provide the 1% population thresholds that are required by Partners for designating EAAFP Network Sites.
Asian Waterbird Census 2024
The recommended dates are January 6 – 21, 2024 covering two weeks and three weekends, when we encourage you to count waterbirds. These dates are for guidance only and counts from any date in January or February 2024 and December 2023 are very welcome. Submission of forms should be done by end March 2024 at the latest.
If you have not participated in the census before, information and AWC count forms and guidelines are uploaded on the AWC 2024 Announcement. The 2024 AWC Waterbird Count & Wetland Assessment forms are available in Excel and the 2024 AWC Wetland Assessment Form as a Google Form. Please contact your national or regional coordinator to find out more about the count in your area.
The standard IWC Count Methodology to plan and conduct the waterbird counts is available here. Drawing the boundaries of a site or count area on a map is key to ensuring consistent coverage from year to year. Digitising Site Boundaries is a simple guidance to the various options to make digital boundaries for sites and submit these with your counts.
All AWC sites submitted to Wetland International with site boundaries or a simple latitude and longitude are visible on the IWC Portal (updated to Dec 2022). Zoom in to see your site.
If you have participated in a previous count for a particular site, kindly cover the site this year and report on it using the latest forms. Please also report if there are few or no birds, as this is very important information too.
We also encourage you to count EAAFP Network Sites and other important wetlands for waterbirds in your area.
Kindly use the appropriate AWC forms to report your observations and provide these by the end of February to your country/regional coordinators, contact details here. If there is no coordinator, kindly send your forms to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck with your conservation efforts and very best wishes for the count!
- Annual IWC 5 year report is available on wetlands.org (in English and Chinese). Summaries of the total number of birds counted per country and the total number for each species are provided, although users can change the report by using the provided filters or moving fields into columns or rows.
- AWC Site Network with individual site boundaries for AWC count areas
- AWC newsletter: latest news from the AWC network as well as past editions of the AWC newsletter
- Wetlands International: The Asian Waterbird Census 2008-2015: Results of coordinated counts in Asia and Australasia
- Wetlands International: Status of Waterbirds in Asia: results of the Asian Waterbird Census 1987-2007
- Waterbirds Populations Portal provides the official 1% population thresholds that are required by Partners for designating EAAFP Network Sites.
What is the INTERNATIONAL WATERBIRD CENSUS?
The International Waterbird Census (IWC) has run since 1967 and today covers over 25,000 sites in more than 100 countries. In each country coordinators work with networks of professional and amateur counters to provide waterbird counts to the IWC. In total, more than 15,000 people submit their data annually, making this one of the largest global monitoring schemes largely based on citizen science. This programme supports conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds in all the world’s flyways. There are five separate regional schemes of the IWC that represent the major flyways of the world: Africa-Eurasia, Asia-Pacific, Caribbean, Central Americas and Neotropics.
To find out more about IWC, please visit IWC website of Wetlands International.
Asian Waterbird Census 2023
Related articles: AWC 2023 Announcement and Asian Waterbird Census Newsletter: December 2023
Asian Waterbird Census 2022
Related articles: Asian Waterbird Census Newsletter: December 2022
Asian Waterbird Census 2021
Related articles: Asian Waterbird Census Newsletter: December 2021
Asian Waterbird Census 2020
Asian Waterbird Census 2019
Asian Waterbird Census 2018
Asian Waterbird Census 2017
Asian Waterbird Census 2016
- Asian Waterbird Census 2020 Notice (IWC Team, Jan 2020)
- Secretariat join Asian Waterbird Census 2016 (Eugene Cheah, Mar 2016)
- 50 Years of the International Waterbird Census – Let’s Make it Count! (Taej Mundkur, Dec 2015)