Monday 22 May 2017

International Day for Biological Diversity – May 22

May 22nd sees the observation of International Day for Biological Diversity, as it has every year this century, recognising the adoption, by 196 countries, of the Convention on Biological Diversity – an international legal instrument for "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources." (source United Nations).

The theme chosen for 2017 is Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism, highlighting the the important contribution that sustainable tourism can make "both to economic growth and to the conservation of biodiversity." 2017 has also been designated International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Events to celebrate Biological Diversity are taking place around the world, including some that are being co-ordinated by international organisations. See the Convention on Biological Diversity website for more information.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

World Migratory Bird Day 2017 – their future is our future

Statement issued by the organisers of World Migratory Bird Day:
Migratory birds are indicators of a healthy planet and functioning ecosystems. Land reclamation, habitat degradation and unsustainable hunting disrupt the services that interconnected ecosystems provide to all life on Earth. Long distance migrants depend on healthy ecosystem networks.
The Red Knot undertakes a 14,000-kilometre journey from the Southern Hemisphere to the Arctic Circle to breed. Habitat loss at stopover sites along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the Atlantic Coast have led to a sharp population decline, reaching 80% in the Americas since 2000.
Migratory animals and people share the same planet and thus, the same limited resources. This is reflected in this year's theme, Their Future is our Future - A healthy planet for migratory birds and people.
Sustainable management of natural resources is needed, including the conservation of migratory birds. The campaign will link the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by the United Nations and migratory birds on a global scale.
Word Migratory Bird Day shows by the example of seven species of migratory birds – from the Barn Swallow to the critically endangered Spoon-Billed Sandpiper – of how habitat loss, over-harvesting and climate change can seriously affect their fate. The campaign calls on people across the globe to protect the birds and the planet to build the future we want.
World Migratory Bird Day is a global campaign to celebrate migratory birds and call for better protection. Individuals, groups and institutions organise events to draw attention to the threats they face.

Lesser flamingo – World Migratory Bird Day
Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) © Mark Anderson

Common Cranes in flight – World Migratory Bird Day
Migratory Birds in Flight – Common Cranes © Jussi Mononen

Spoon-billed Sandpiper – World Migratory Bird Day
Spoon-billed Sandpiper © Smith Sutibut

White Pelican – World Migratory Bird Day
White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) © Sergey Dereliev (UNEP/AEWA)

Thursday 23 March 2017

World Meteorological Day 2017 – Understanding Clouds

Understanding Clouds is the theme of World Meteorological Day 2017, which falls annually on 23 March.

The official site of the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) International Cloud Atlas describes the classification system for clouds and meteorological phenomena used by all WMO members.
The Atlas provides a common language to communicate cloud observations, and ensures consistency in reporting by observers around the world. It serves as a training tool for meteorologists, as well as for those working in aeronautical and maritime environments, and it has become popular with weather enthusiasts and cloud spotters.World Meteorological Organisation

Friday 3 March 2017

World Wildlife Day 2017: Listening to the young voices

3 March marks World Wildlife Day, an event that has been celebrated annually, around the world since 2014. It follows the adoption of a resolution at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 20 December 2013. The date was chosen to coincide with the adoption of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in 1973.
World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.United Nations
This year's event is being organised around the theme of Listen to the young voices, the aim of this being to engage and empower the youth as future guardians and custodians of wildlife in all of its forms.
WWD2017 gives us a new opportunity to provide incentives to the youth to tackle conservation issues. It is also an opportunity for them to engage with one another and together forge an inspired path to a better world.United Nations
In keeping with the spirit of World Wildlife Day and its theme for 2017, the CITES Secretariat has launched a photo competition for youth around the world entitled, Through young eyes. The competition encourages young people from around the world (ages 10-24), of all photography backgrounds to submit original photos that "either display beautiful and striking wildlife or that depict youth engaging in conservation efforts."

Further information about this and other events associated with World Wildlife Day is available from the official website.

Thursday 2 February 2017

World Wetlands Day 2017 - Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction

February 2 marks World Wetlands Day, a celebration held annually since 1997, to mark the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, or the Ramsar Convention as it is more commonly known, after the Iranian city on the shores of the Caspian Sea where it came into being.

By U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. At time of writing, there are 169 contracting parties. More than 2200 sites worldwide have designated conservation status under the convention, covering a total surface area of over 215,000,00 ha. Wetlands are believed to cover up to 6% of the Earth's surface and occur on every continent except Antartica. It is estimated that about half of all wetlands are comprised of peatlands.

White-Faced Heron at Boondall Wetlands
By Richard.Fisher [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

World Wetlands Day seeks to raise awareness about the contribution that wetlands make towards the Earth's biodiversity. Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction has been selected as the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2017. "This theme is selected to raise awareness and to highlight the vital roles of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as floods, droughts and cyclones on communities, and in helping to build resilience." (Ramsar website)

Since 2015, a Wetlands Youth Photo Contest has been organised, to encourage appreciation among young people about these habitats. This year's competition is inviting entries that illustrate how "wetlands helps us cope with extreme weather events":
Between 2 February and 2 March 2017 young people from around the world aged between 18 to 25 are invited to particpate ... for a chance to win a free flight to visit a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections. (for further information, including terms and conditions, see website)

World Wetlands Day has its own dedicated website that also includes much information pertaining to wetlands, in the form of posters, factsheets, etc.