This weekend, 180 countries are participating in Operation Wetlands, which consists of counting waterbirds. It is one of the most important participatory science programs around the world, in collaboration with the League for the protection of birds and, on our coast with the agents of the Marine Natural Park of the Gulf of Lion.
Based in the Netherlands Wetlands international is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. These spaces are increasingly threatened, yet essential to biodiversity, which requires rigorous management. Therein lies the whole point of this annual waterbird counting operation (January 15 and 16), which is part of a monitoring program, the largest and oldest in the world.
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Waterbirds are a key component of wetland ecosystems. Their presence, number and facilities on a site determine the health and quality of the environment. But not only, as Thierry Auga-Bascou, agent of the Marine Natural Park of the Gulf of the Lion underlines: “They are also indicative of climate change and pollution. This is how we see the passage or installation of new species. Like, the Mediterranean crested cormorant. The observation and counting that we are going to do this Saturday, on the coastline will allow to identify it and especially to geolocate it. This discreet bird is very elegant, we will know if it is nesting on the rocky coast, which we can only observe from the sea “. In collaboration with the Ornithological Group of Roussillon, the data will then be sent to Wetlands and enter an international and local conservation base.
Who can count?
Since the 1940s, this structure has grouped together the follow-ups in coordinated and distinct programs, depending on the migration routes of the continents. The contributors are generally avid bird watchers and environmental professionals. Thus, in the four corners of the world, several thousand volunteers will be mobilized again this weekend, for this citizen count across the planet. In most countries, the census is professionally coordinated, on our coast it will be carried out by agents from the Marine Natural Park and the Roussillon Ornithological Group (GOR).
If you are interested, it is possible to participate by making reports, and by approaching the GOR, in particular, which has methodology and follow-up forms. A commitment that can also translate into operations to raise awareness of wetlands.
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