Switzerland Submits National Guidelines to Conserve Migratory Raptors

Abu Dhabi, 3 September 2019 – The Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU wishes to extend its sincere ‘congratulations’ to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Switzerland for being the first Signatory to fulfill the obligation to prepare and submit a national strategy to implement the Raptors MOU.
Paragraph 12 of the text of the Raptors MOU requires Signatories to produce a national or regional strategy, or equivalent documents for Category 1[1] and, where appropriate, Category 2[2] species listed in Table 1 of the Action Plan, within two years of signing the MOU.
This national initiative was led by Ms. Sabine Herzog, National Contact Point for Switzerland, in close collaboration with the Swiss Ornithological Institute (SOI).  Last year, the Coordinating Unit was invited by FOEN to comment on an early draft and last month the final version of the Raptor and Owl Conservation in Switzerland - Strategic Guidelines and Management Priorities was received.
"This is a significant milestone in the development of the Raptors MOU", commented Nick P. Williams (Head of the Coordinating Unit). "The document submitted by Switzerland perfectly realizes for the first time a fundamental concept enshrined in the MOU. It selects and prioritises the most relevant conservation activities set out in the MOU Action Plan, and neatly refines them into a concerted strategy to implement the Raptors MOU in Switzerland. The Swiss have set an extremely high standard for other Signatories to follow."
The overall aim of these Strategic Guidelines is to secure and maintain a favorable conservation status for all populations of both resident and migrant birds of prey that regularly occur in Switzerland, including 21 raptors and nine owls. Four species are listed in Category 1 (Bearded Vulture, Red Kite, Pallid Harrier and Red-footed Falcon) and nine in Category 2 of the MOU. National objectives are defined, as well as 50 key activities to mitigate the main threats to this group of birds.
Currently, most raptors and owls in Switzerland show healthy populations with favourable conservation status. However, many threats do exist such as: Habitat loss and degradation, human disturbance, electrocution on powerline poles, poisoning (intentional and otherwise), collision with infrastructure and decline of food availability. The Strategic Guidelines establish specific goals to address existing threats and to anticipate, reduce and avoid potential new ones, so as to ensure the long-term protection of birds of prey in Switzerland. The suite of priority activities is classified within four themes: Policy, conservation action, education and awareness as well as research and monitoring.  These actions will be implemented in accordance with the Swiss hunting legislation and the Swiss Biodiversiy Strategy developed to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“The efforts made to develop the Swiss Guidelines for the conservation of raptors and owls and to bring them into action with a broad variety of activities have already paid off”, believes Sabine Herzog (Senior Policy Advisor, FOEN). “In the preparation phase, not only the Guidelines for Preparing National or Regional Raptor Conservation Strategies and the Vulture MsAP proved to be highly valuable, but the Technical Advisory Group’s scientific input and the Coordinating Unit’s technical support played a decisive role. Besides the 33 raptor and owl species occurring in Switzerland, also the cooperation amongst relevant implementation partners benefited from the extensive elaboration work. We strongly encourage other Signatories to follow our example, and we are ready to share our experiences with them.”
FOEN, together with the Cantonal Nature Conservation Conference and the Cantonal Wildlife Management Conference, will mandate the Swiss Species Recovery Programme for Birds, which is jointly managed by SOI and BirdLife Switzerland, to coordinate these national activities and to propose annual conservation projects that will be implemented with other partners. The Swiss strategic Guidelines are founded upon robust scientific information on the conservation status of all resident and migratory raptors and owls based on long-term monitoring by SOI, including data gathered for the Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas 2013 - 16.
[1] Category 1: Globally threatened and Near Threatened species as defined in the latest IUCN Red List.
[2] Category 2: Species considered to have Unfavourable Conservation Status within the African-Eurasian region.

Last updated on 09 September 2019

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