Building Capacity in Western Indian Ocean Islands
Bonn, 28 March 2023 - An AEWA Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop for Western Indian Ocean islands has helped build capacity on the flyway approach to the conservation and wise use of waterbirds and wetlands. From 6 to 10 February 2023, the workshop, which was hosted by the government of Mauritius, brought together 35 participants from Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius including Rodrigues Island, Seychelles, Mayotte and Réunion.
The training was jointly organized by the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat and the Mauritius National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS), under the leadership of its Director Kevin Ruhomaun, in close collaboration with the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It was made possible thanks to the generous financial and in-kind support from the government of Mauritius and the European Commission’s Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) Thematic Programme Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA) with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Honorable Maneesh Gobin, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, officially opened the training workshop. He pointed out the importance of the islands for waterbird and wetlands conservation, highlighting a number of sites of crucial importance for long distant migrants covered under AEWA, such as the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary, Bras D'Eau National Park, Ile D’Ambre and Cargados Carajos Shoals (Brandon Island) in Mauritius. The Minister emphasized the commitment of the Mauritius government to the conservation of migratory waterbird and sustainable management and restoration of wetlands, underlined by the upcoming designation of two more wetlands of international importance in the near future. The opening ceremony included a short celebration to mark this year’s World Migratory Bird Day which focuses on the topic of water and its importance for migratory birds, as well as World Wetlands Day highlighting wetlands restoration.
Following the opening ceremony, the workshop participants who came from a wide range of different institutions involved in waterbird and wetlands conservation, including the forestry, wildlife, environmental, fisheries and education sectors, embarked on a rich 5-day training programme. It included a variety of lectures, presentations, practical and role play exercises, group sessions and field excursions, all aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of the different components relating to flyway conservation outlined in the main training resource, the Flyway Training Kit (FTK). The workshop’s trainers, Tim Dodman and Abdoulaye Ndiaye, both coauthors of the FTK, also touched on some aspects relating to the conservation of other migratory marine species covered under CMS, including marine turtles, sharks and dugongs, given their relevance for the participating islands. The ToT workshop placed particular emphasis on preparing participants to design and deliver their own future flyway approach trainings at the national level, with numerous practical exercises strengthening their skills in this regard.
The workshop programme included a day and a half of field training sessions, including at Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary, Île aux Aigrettes, Île aux Fouquets, Île da la Passe, Pointe d’Esny and Blue Bay Marine Park, in addition to an excursion organized by NPCS to the magnificent Black River Gorges National Park after the official closure of the workshop. These field visits were a good occasion for participants to deepen their understanding of the different thematic areas covered, particularly relating to community-based approaches to the sustainable use and management of wetlands, restoration of sites, as well as effective communication, education, and public awareness.
Participants also learned about key elements to consider when developing effective project proposals, such as the importance of resource mobilization for advancing waterbird and wetlands conservation. Working together in groups organized by island, the participants developed basic conservation project concepts. Based on these, seed-grant funds will be awarded to some participating islands states to support the delivery of national training courses.
The AEWA Flyway Training of Trainers workshop was closed by the NPCS Deputy Director, Suraj Gopal, who commended the participants and organizers for their contribution to the success of the training, highlighting the wealth of knowledge, skills and experience exchanged during the workshop.