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International help for one of Ireland’s most Iconic Geese, the Greenland White-fronted Goose

BirdWatch Ireland welcomes a recent international agreement to take urgent action for one of Europe's rarest geese, the Greenland White-fronted Goose. Greenland White-fronted Geese breed in west Greenland and migrate through Iceland to Ireland, and northern and western Britain. Almost 50% of which spend their winters in Ireland, and most of these on the Wexford Slobs in the southeast.

Numbers globally have fallen from a peak of 35,600 in 1999 to just 22,600 in 2010, caused by a long-term and sustained reduction in breeding success. Here, there have been large-scale declines in some of the smaller flocks that were formerly scattered in reasonably healthy numbers thoughout Ireland. They were formerly recognised as a peatland species, although they now feed most commonly on agriculturally improved grasslands. For some flocks there remains a link to their traditional peat bog roost sites.

A recent Meeting of the Parties to the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) brought together representatives of 67 governments and many other interested organisations every three years to discuss conservation needs of migratory waterbirds and prioritise actions needed to conserve them. At this meeting, on Friday 18 May, an international action plan for the Greenland White-fronted Goose received formal approval by AEWA parties.

This plan calls for:

  • improved monitoring and research into the causes of population decline;
  • actions on wintering areas in Ireland and the UK, and staging areas in Iceland, to ensure that geese return to Greenland in the best condition for successful breeding;
  • urgent efforts to further reduce unnecessary causes of death for example, through collision with man-made structures, illegal killing or killing on migration routes;
  • measures to further improve feeding habitats and reduce conflicts with humans especially in agricultural areas; and
  • improved protection and management of important areas used by the geese in all parts of their international range.

 The adopted plan is available here.

Greenland White-fronted Goose researchers examinie issues in Greenland

Greenland White-fronted Goose research in Greeland

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