Migratory Bird Day Celebrates Birds’ Cultural Roles

13 May 2012: Events took place around the world to mark World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), initiated in 2006 as a global campaign to raise awareness of the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats. Between 12-13 May, bird festivals, education programmes and birdwatching excursions were held to celebrate WMBD 2012.

This event is organized by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). BirdLife International, Wetlands International and the Secretariat of the Partnership for the East Asian - Australasian Flyway (EAAFP) are the main partners of the global campaign.

Under the slogan "Migratory birds and people - together through time," WMBD emphasized the important cultural and environmental role played by birds. It also helped highlight the multiple benefits of safeguarding bird habitats and the economic benefits of supporting migratory bird species. Some of the benefits come from bird-watching, a popular form of ecotourism. According to the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Green Economy Report, global spending on ecotourism is increasing by about six times the industry-wide rate of growth. Elizabeth Mrema, CMS, confirmed that birding plays a significant and growing part in the tourism industry, and creates direct and indirect economic benefits, including in developing countries. A survey by the US Fish & Wildlife Service puts the value of birdwatching at around US$32 billion per year in the US alone, an amount that corresponds to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Costa Rica.

BirdLife's CEO, Marco Lambertini, noted that WMBD is an opportunity to think of bird migration as a miracle that should be celebrated every day. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [WMBD Website] [CMS Press Release]