Conservation strategy workshop on White-bellied Heron. 1-4 December 2014, Guwahati, Assam.

The White-bellied Heron Ardeainsignis Hume, 1878: a conservation strategy workshop, 1-4 December 2014, Guwahati, Assam

ATREE and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) are hosting a conservation strategy workshop on the Critically Endangered White-bellied Heron,Ardeainsignis. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together experts, interested parties (individuals, governmental and non-governmental bodies), to share information on the species, identify knowledge gaps to be researched, and to develop a realistic and practical conservation strategy that will maximise the chances of ensuring the long-term persistence of viable populations of the heron.

There is adequate baseline information to know that the White-bellied Heron persists at very low numbers over a very large area comprising Bhutan, Yunan province in China, northeast India,and northern Myanmar. There remains uncertainty over its habitat requirements and biology. Though there are credible suggestions on the causes of the species’ decline and the current threats to its persistence, there are also significant uncertainties surrounding these. It is likely that a combination of existing and emerging threats is causing the species’ on-going decline, with differing pressures in different range states. This situation calls for urgent attention, with critical thinking on the species’ status and likely trend, the underlying causes and future threats.

For this workshop, Synchronicity Earth,a UK-based organization working on biodiversity conservation, and IUCN Species Survival Commission have brought together range state representatives from government and non-governmental organizations, along with individuals with relevant expertise; they have also mobilizedfunding, sponsors and partnerships, including Asian Species Action Partnership, Bird Life International, European Zoo and Aquarium Association, Species Conservation Plan Sub-Committee, Welt Vogel Park Walsrode, Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations for this technical workshop.

The key output of the workshop will be a range-wide strategy document that will help conserve the White-bellied Heron. The workshop is expected to enhance transboundary coordination among groups working for the conservation of the species, also guide donors with an interest in the species regarding conservation priorities. The workshop is expected to define the means by which there will be regular communication and collaboration between critical parties in the conservation of the bird, both in- and out-of-range state organizations.