New “Cool Tools” for Waterbird and
An innovative tool for tracking the migratory patterns of waterbirds has won first prize in an ESRI
International Conservation Mapping Competition. The “Critical Site Network Tool” (CSN Tool) and
the supporting “Flyaway Training Kit” (FTK) are some of the products of the Wings over Wetland
(WOW) project, the largest flyway-scale waterbirds conservation initiative ever attempted, covering
the 118 countries included in the range of the African-Eurasian Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA).
The WOW project is funded by the GEF (Global Environment Facility), the German Government and
several other donors, and it is implemented by UNEP as a joint effort by leading global conservation
organizations and partners such as Wetlands International, BirdLife International, the AEWA,
the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and UNEP-WCMC (World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
An estimated 50 billion migratory birds make phenomenal annual journeys across borders and
regions of the world, covering thousands of kilometers. For this reason, they are a link between
countries and ecosystems, making them one of the world’s great wonders. Because of their use of
several habitats as stopover sites during migration, the health of migratory birds is an important indicator
of the state of our environment.
The CSN Tool will be instrumental to improve our understanding of waterbirds migration, and it will
promote their conservation through better management and more informed decision making at the
flyways scale. This will also help combat the adverse effects of climate change by protecting the critical
wetlands habitats used by water birds. These habitats are also important for the livelihoods of
millions of people in rural communities living around those wetlands.