Australia provides critical habitat for millions of migratory birds each year.
To ensure their conservation the Australian Government has fostered international cooperation through a range of important agreements, including bilateral migratory bird agreements with Japan (JAMBA), China (CAMBA) and the Republic of Korea (ROKAMBA), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), and through the East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership.
A range of important activities are also undertaken within Australia to conserve migratory bird populations and their habitats. These activities have largely focused on waterbirds, mostly shorebirds and seabirds; because their tendency to aggregate in flocks in coastal areas makes them particularly vulnerable to disturbance and predation.
Wetland habitat loss and degradation is a significant threat to migratory waterbirds, and the conservation of important sites both within Australia and along their migration routes is essential to their survival. Many pressures are contributing to this degradation, of which population growth and associated coastal development are of particular concern.
Bilateral migratory bird agreements
For over 30 years, Australia has played an important role in international cooperation to conserve migratory birds in the East Asian - Australasian Flyway (the Flyway), entering into bilateral migratory bird agreements with Japan in 1974, China in 1986 and most recently the Republic of Korea in 2007. Each of these agreements provides for the protection and conservation of migratory birds and their important habitats, protection from take or trade except under limited circumstances, the exchange of information, and building cooperative relationships.
Birds listed on the annexes to these three agreements, together with those on Appendices I or II of the Bonn Convention, must also be placed on the migratory species list under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA provide an important mechanism for pursuing conservation outcomes for migratory birds, including migratory waterbirds.
- Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement
- China-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement
- Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement
- Australian National Report to the 18th JAMBA, 12th CAMBA and 5th ROKAMBA Consultative Meetings, October 2016
- Australian National Report to the 19th JAMBA, 13th CAMBA and 6th ROKAMBA Consultative Meetings, November 2018
Other international agreements
Australia has further international commitments to protect migratory birds under the Ramsar Convention and the Bonn Convention.
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention)
- Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
East Asian - Australasian Flyway Partnership
The Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and the Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian — Australasian Flyway (East Asian—Australasian Flyway Partnership) was launched on 6 November 2006. A Ramsar regional initiative, the Partnership is an informal and voluntary collaboration of effort focusing on protecting migratory waterbirds, their habitat and the livelihoods of people dependent on them.
Flyway Partners include countries, intergovernmental agencies, international non-government organisations and the international business sector. A cornerstone of the Partnership is the establishment of a network of internationally important sites for migratory waterbirds throughout the EAAF. The Partnership operates via working groups and task forces and meets every two years to discuss important issues facing migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
- Celebrating Australia’s Migratory Waterbirds and their habitats
- More about the Partnership and its activities
Conservation activities in Australia
In Australia the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides for protection of migratory species as a matter of national environmental significance. The EPBC Act prohibits a person taking an action that has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on a listed migratory species unless the Minister for the Environment has given approval.
- EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 - Industry Guidelines for avoiding, assessing and mitigating impacts on EPBC Act listed migratory shorebird species
- Population Estimates for 37 Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway
- Draft referral guideline for 14 birds listed as migratory species under the EPBC Act - 2015
The EPBC Act also provides for the development of plans to conserve listed migratory species:
- Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds - 2015
- Wildlife Conservation Plan for Seabirds - 2022
Bird and bat banding
The Australian Government under the auspices of the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) manages the collection and collation of mark/recapture information on threatened and migratory bird and bat species.