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Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

image of Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

This report outlines the results of the internationally coordinated census of wintering waterbirds in the Baltic Sea 2007-2009 undertaken under the SOWBAS project (Status of wintering Waterbird populations in the Baltic Sea). The estimated total number of wintering waterbirds was 4.41 million compared to 7.44 million during the last co-ordinated census 1992-1993. Despite the general declines stable or increasing populations of herbivorous species were recorded. While benthic carnivores with a coastal distribution have either shown moderate declines, stable or increasing populations seaducks with an offshore distribution have declined seriously. Based on analyses of trends in wintering waterbirds and pressures indicators are suggested as performance indicators in relation to the international and national actions taken to reduce the anthropogenic pressures in the Baltic Sea.

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Guidelines for management and monitoring

In chapter 8, a qualitative and quantitative assessment was made of the impact of the different anthropogenic pressures on current population numbers of waterbirds in the Baltic Sea. In this chapter, an attempt will be made to synthesize the results of the individual assessments into recommendations for indicators. Indicators are here interpreted as both priority species for conservation and species which may be used as performance indicators in relation to the international and national actions taken to reduce the anthropogenic pressures in the Baltic Sea. As documented in chapter 8, multiple pressures can be identified as playing an important (either negative or positive) role in the development of populations and distributions of most species of waterbirds. Teasing out the relative influence of each pressure on the health and conservation status of each species will require more detailed statistical analyses, which are outside the scope of this report. Thus, the suggested indicators should be seen as a first step in the direction of including targets and indicators for wintering waterbirds into the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). The goal of BSAP is to restore good ecological status of the Baltic marine environment by 2021, i.e. the Baltic Sea should be unaffected by eutrophication, life in the sea should be undisturbed by hazardous substances, maritime activities in the Baltic Sea should be carried out in an environmentally friendly way and the Baltic Sea biodiversity should have a favourable conservation status.

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