There were two resolutions on Sustainable Use at WCC2 in Amman, now more than 12 years ago. SULi News readers hardly need reminding about WCC2.29, the “IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources”, which underpins so much of what we do by linking sustainable use and livelihoods. Notably, in clause 7, “On the basis of these analyses, IUCN concludes that: (a) Use of wild living resources, IF sustainable, is an important conservation tool because the social and economic benefits derived from such use provide incentives for people to conserve them;” the other 3 sub-clauses say that use should not cause biodiversity loss (b) and should involve continuously improved management (c) that is adaptive through monitoring and flexibility (d).

The less well-known Resolution WCC2.74 was on “Conserving the Saker Falcon”. It requested that “Saker range states and falconers work with CITES and other international regulatory authorities to develop an internationally recognized system, initially for this species but applicable for other wildlife, that combines wildlife research and modern marking technologies to: monitor populations and estimate sustainable yields, and to motivate conservation of the species and its habitats throughout its range (1).

The second resolution passed unopposed after mention of “other high value wildlife” was deleted. However, despite a similar resolution taken by the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF) ten years ago, the request of WCC2.74 has not yet been implemented.

That is about to change. After dramatic declines in some populations, the Saker was Red-listed as Endangered; then UNEP’s Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) voted to prevent use of wild Sakers from all countries except Mongolia. Despite a highly successful UAE-funded project to attract non-breeding Mongolian Sakers into nest-boxes, which greatly enhances production of young, even the Mongolian government has now banned exports except for diplomatic purposes.

However, the CMS measures provided for a rolling down-listing, where countries restore their Saker populations, with a Saker Task Force (STF) to create a global action plan. Under contract from STF to build models for conserving Sakers, a team under leadership of SULi in Europe has recently reviewed models of raptor populations and yields, surveyed falconers and trappers in Saudi Arabia, designed a socio-economic model for Saker Falcon management and costed the software tool needed. The trapping on migration of juveniles marked (while nest-recording) can estimate population sizes as well as harvest sizes, so we recommended engaging stakeholders in breeding areas, as well as trappers, falconers and falcon hospitals, so that mark-recapture estimation of populations can build trust for cooperative adaptive management of wild Sakers.

Taking account of this work the CMS-STF held a Stakeholder Conference in Abu Dhabi during 9-12 September, for 37 Range States with other Saker stakeholders. It was agreed to look for quick wins in conservation through use of Sakers in falconry. A Saker Adaptive Management System will raise awareness and start mark recapture estimation, aiming to attract 1000 visits from markers, trappers and falcon hospitals and other stakeholders by the next COP. Other quick win targets include building 1000 more nest-boxes in new areas with poor nesting habitat, and aiming to modify a million power line poles, which are killing large numbers of Sakers and other birds in some countries. It will have taken 14 years to begin to implement WCC2.74. In the complex world of conservation though sustainable use, it tends to be patience that comes up trumps.

Professor Robert Kenward is Vice-Chair, SULi Europe, and Chair of the European Sustainable Use Group: reke@ceh.ac.uk

Footnotes

(1) For further details see SULiNews issue 1