EAD’s Bird Database Given a Boost

The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC) that will give the agency access to almost a quarter of a million reports of wild bird sightings in the United Arab Emirates. The reports date back to the late 1960s and will no doubt prove to be a massive boost to conservation efforts in the region.

The memorandum will provide the EAD with access to the entire EBRC database of records. This information will then be integrated into the EAD environmental database, providing a more comprehensive coverage of Abu Dhabi and other Emirates. In the end, EAD will have one of the most extensive national databases relating to wild bird recordings in the Arabian Peninsula. Majid Al Mansouri, the Secretary General of EAD who signed the document on their behalf, said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement with the EBRC on ways in which we can work together to ensure the long term conservation of our wild birds.” He further noted that wild birds were “crucial indicators for the health of the country’s environment and wildlife.” Al Mansouri also noted that members and supporters of EBRC have previously provided EAD with very valuable help with regards to monitoring wild birds as part of the National Avian Flu monitoring campaign.

The collaboration with the EBRC was undoubtedly an excellent choice, since the organization has been collecting data from both resident and visiting birdwatchers for more than 15 years. Some of their reports date back to 1971 and others include reports of very rare birds. All the reports relate specifically to bird activity in the country, and have been assessed according to prevailing international standards. The UAE’s Bird Species List, which is maintained by the EBRC, currently lists more than 420 species.

Speaking on behalf of BirdLife Middle East, Ibrahim Al-Khader noted that the United Arab Emirates is a “major stopover site for migrating and wintering waders,” and that several million shorebirds may be found here during migration. Al-Khader also noted that voluntary “contributions from bird lovers and enthusiasts” represent a “major pillar of BirdLife International’s work”. Clearly having a more accurate picture of bird activity in the area over a larger area over the course of a number of years will prove to be a massive boost to local conservation efforts. It is also an excellent example of how amateur and leisure bird watchers can contribute towards conservation.