East Atlantic Flyway Week – Strengthening Bird Conservation and Ecotourism Partnerships

Bird tourism in protected areas is growing in importance. The latest research shows that around 3 million travelers dedicate a trip to birdwatching each year, and 20% of European tourists who travel for wildlife tourism are interested in birdwatching.

To strengthen conservation and ecotourism partnerships in this area, the East Atlantic Flyway Week is taking place from 20-27 April 2023 on the island of Hallig Langeness in the German Wadden Sea.

The East Atlantic Flyway is a migration route used annually by around 90 million coastal birds. It is one of the eight major flyways used by waders and shorebirds; and the wetlands along the circular route – covering the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Arctic, and Africa – are vital to many protected birds.

The International Wadden Sea World Heritage area, an LT&C Example, plays a central role on the flyway route.

Waders and shorebirds, such as Knots, Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plovers, and Brent Geese, spend summer in the Arctic and winter on the coast of West Africa and West Europe. The Wadden Sea plays a vital role for millions of these birds as a staging area, filling up energy reserves for long-distant flights to Arctic breeding grounds in spring and wintering areas in autumn. Other birds, such as Avocets and Spoonbills, breed in the Wadden Sea region and spend winter in West Africa.

The East Atlantic Flyway Week is held at the optimal time and location to experience the spring migration of coastal birds.

Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) on Hallig Langeness, Biosphere Reserve Halligen, Germany.
Photo: Peter Prokosch

Activities focused on protected areas and ecotourism

The event is organized by Schutzstation Wattenmeer, WWF Wadden Sea, the NABU Michael-Otto-Institut, and LT&C.

The week’s objectives are to review the history of the flyway concept and provide an overview of activities and potential future initiatives for improving, enlarging, or establishing protected areas along the flyway – with a focus on the role of tourism.

Seminars, exhibitions, and other events are taking place at Seminar House, Schutzstation Wattenmeer on Peterswarf, Langeness.

LT&C’s Annual General Meeting is also being held during the week on Sunday, 23 April, at the same venue.

Other highlights include the opening ceremony of the “Brent Goose Days” (Ringelganstage) on Saturday, 22 April, birdwatching excursions, and a symposium to honour the work of the passionate conservationist and ornithologist Hermann Hötker, and his wife Brigitte Klinner-Hötker, on Thursday, 27 April.

Cloud of Red Knots (Calidris canutus islandica), Langeness, Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea.
Photo: Peter Prokosch

How to take part

The East Atlantic Flyway Week is aimed at conservation professionals, migratory coastal bird researchers, and ecotourism practitioners interested in protected areas along the flyway, as well as interested members from the organizing NGOs.

Numbers are limited to 30 participants a day. The first two days of the event, 20-21 April, are almost booked, so we recommend the 23-27 April for LT&C members wanting to participate.

Visit the event page for the full program and booking information.

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