Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund (AWCF) 2023 : More partnerships are coming!
On today’s World Wildlife Day, WWF-Hong Kong is pleased to announce the successful application result for the Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund (AWCF)! This year, the AWCF will support Pusat Riset Konservasi Gajah dan Biodiversitas Hutan (PKGB) and University of Syiah Kuala Banda Aceh to continue the project “Mapping migratory waterbirds poaching on the East Coast of Aceh Province, Indonesia” which was funded by the 2022 EAAFP WG/TF Small Grant Fund. With the recommendations suggested after conducting the Small Grant project, the coming project will 1) involve the local community in coast-cleaning and sewage canal-closing activities so that they can play a stronger role in protecting migratory waterbirds and their coastal habitats; 2) increase the role of women’s groups in waterbird protection as previous market survey results found that hunters were children who were still at the high school level. In addition, market surveys in another 4 sub-districts in Banda Aceh City namely Kutaraja, Syian Kuala, Kuta Alam and Meraxa, questionnaire surveys targeting trappers, traders and sellers and waterbird surveys will be continued. For Ulee Matang which is at the eastern corner of Aceh Province, Wild Heritage of Sumatra (WHIS) Foundation will approach Nature Agency of Aceh Province and the village head and organize school visits to raise their awareness on the site as its importance to migratory shorebirds has been confirmed by previous research. Since the fish/shrimp pond area in Ulee Matang was where the first critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Indonesia was discovered in November 2018, monthly waterbird survey will be conducted from May 2023 to April 2024. Foraging ecology and different abiotic parameters related to water and substrate in selected ponds will also be studied. Large area of fish/shrimp ponds at Ulee Matang used by migratory shorebirds for foraging ©Chairunas Adha Putra In Malaysia, the Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda coast (TAT-KM) was identified as an Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBA) by BirdLife International in 2007. Besides wildlife, the site also provides different ecosystem services such as fisheries, coastal protection and water quality improvement. However, Penang’s state government declared the reclamation of the unprotected coastal area recently so Shorebird Peninsular Malaysia Project (SPMP) will engage and advocate efforts with various stakeholders to lead to the protection of TAT-KM. Establishment of community-based ecotourism for the fisher folks will also carried out so that fishermen can earn additional and alternative income while local community and the public can understand more about the importance of the rich mudflats and mangrove forest. Dr. Nurul Salmi from SPMP said “We are very thankful to have been selected for this prestigious award. The award gives us the opportunity to design the management plan for TAT-KM, which we are particularly excited about. We hope this will contribute to the protection of a critical site and ensure the sustainability of the EAA flyway corridor. ” Besides providing project fundings, the AWCF Secretariat will discuss with the project teams to see what contents to be covered in the wetland management training workshops in Mai Po Nature Reserve and what kind of on-site support are needed. “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation” are going to happen at the 3 project sites! Tens of thousands of shorebirds feeding on the mudflats at Teluk Air Tawar – Kuala Muda (TAT-KM) during low tide ©Nasir Azizan Shorebird Peninsular Malaysia Project (SPMP) has already started engaging the local community at TAT-KM. This is a community event organized in late February 2023 ©Nasir Azizan Article prepared by Fion Cheung from the AWCF Secretariat of WWF-Hong Kong