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The Wings Over Wetlands - African-Eurasian Flyways Project

WOW Project Partners and Sponsors

The WOW project was supported by a large group of donors and partners at the international and local level, across the entire African-Eurasian region. You may click one of the links below to lean more.



UNEP-GEFAs an independent international financial institution supported by member states, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) provides grants to developing countries for projects that benefit the global environment and promote sustainable livelihoods in local communities. Since 1991, the GEF has provided grants to more than 1,900 projects in more than 160 countries. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is one of the key agencies of the United Nations that is mandated with the implementation of GEF programmes worldwide. The UNEP was the agency responsible for the technical and administrative oversight of the WOW project.




Wetlands International

Wetlands International is the largest global, non-governmental organisation aiming to conserve and promote the wise use of the world’s wetlands. As a science-based organisation, Wetlands International carries out research activities, field projects, collects and provides information to assist governments, policy-makers and local organisations in the protection and sustainable use of wetlands. It coordinates parts of the “International Waterbird Census” (IWC) and compiles the “Waterbird Population Estimates” publication as well as assists in the identification of internationally important wetlands under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Wetlands International was the overall technical lead organisation of the Wings Over Wetlands Project, and was contracted by UNOPS/UNEP-GEF as the senior lead contractor.  Wetlands International led the design and development phase of the WOW project, and hosted the WOW Project Coordination Unit (PCU) at its Headquarters in Wageningen, The Netherlands until July 2009. Wetlands International contributed to the technical supervision of and supported for five of the eleven WOW demonstration projects, including: Haapsalu-Noarootsi Bays (Estonia), Nemunas River Delta (Lithuania), Banc d’Arguin National Park(Mauritania), Saloum-Niumi (Senegal & The Gambia) and Namga-Kokorou (Niger). Wetlands International has also been working closely with UNEP-WCMC on developing the Critical Site Network Tool, and was leading the Capacity Development component of the project.



BirdLife International

BirdLife International is one of the world’s largest international conservation organisations, specifically dedicated to preserving the world’s birds, their habitats and global biodiversity. It is a global partnership consisting of a network of non-governmental organisations from over 100 countries. BirdLife International plays a key role in the “International Important Bird Area Programme” and is responsible for many bird monitoring and survey activities taking place around the world. 
BirdLife International was also a lead organisation within the Wings Over Wetlands partnership,  thus strongly involved in the implementation of all aspects of the project. Birdlife International was contracted by UNOPS and Wetlands International to contribute to various aspects of the project, and in particular to the development of the Critical Site Network Tool, and to support six of the eleven demonstration projects executed by BirdLife partners across the AEWA region. These included the WOW Demonstration Projects in: Biharungra Fishponds (Hungary), Hadeija-Nguru Wetlands (Nigeria), Wakkerstroom Wetlands (South Africa), Dar es Salaam Coastal Wetlands (Tanzania), Aden Lagoons (Yemen) and Lake Burdur (Turkey).




African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)UNEP-AEWA is an intergovernmental environmental treaty, developed under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP-CMS), dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds across Africa and Eurasia. UNEP-AEWA brings together governments, agencies and NGOs to work collaboratively towards conserving waterbirds and their habitats throughout their migratory range(s) across three continents.  Of the 119 range states included in the African-Eurasian region, currently 62 have joined AEWA (as of November 2008) and are actively working together to conserve these species and the habitats upon which they depend, both nationally and on a flyway scale.

The WOW Project supported the implementation of several key aspects of the mandate of UNEP-AEWA: to develop transboundary – intercontinental strategic measures to conserve the network of critical wetland areas on which migratory waterbirds depend throughout the African-Eurasian Flyways. In fact, the Wings Over Wetlands Project has greatly contributed to the implementation of a number of AEWA International Implementation Priorities for the period of 2006-2008.  



 BfN (Bundesamt für Naturschutz)

BfN - Bundesamt für NaturschutzThe BfN is the German federal scientific authority, responsbile  for national and international nature conservation and landscape management, based in Bonn. Among other tasks, the BfN advises the Federal Government, conducts research and provides regular feedback to the Federal Government. With the results of these activities, the BfN provides aid to decision making in the legislative process and supports the practical work of administrative authorities and nature conservation associations.

The German Government supported the WOW Project with a generous financial contribution of 1 Million Euro. The BfN was charged with the task of overseeing German support for the WOW project that was channelled through Wetlands International.

"Gefördert durch das Bundesamt für Naturschutz mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorshicherheit"




UNOPSThe United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) provide people, tools, and the operational know-how needed to get international projects up and running, and client goals met. This is accomplished by offering a range of services including procurement, recruitment and human resources administration, loan supervision, and certification. Established in 1995 as a distinct part of the UN system, UNOPS has more then a decade of experience in global project management.

As executing agency of the WOW project, UNOPS was on the front lines of project implementation working closely with the lead organisations (Wetlands International and BirdLife International) and was entrusted by UNEP-GEF with the management of GEF funds. In particular, UNOPS was responsible for employing the staff of the Project Coordination Unit (PCU), that oversaw project delivery. UNOPS tasks, through the PCU and UNOPS' Kenya Operations Centre in Nairobi, included issuing and managing contractual arrangements with all major project partners and sub-contractors who recieved GEF funds in the framework of the WOW project. 




Ramsar Convention on WetlandsThe Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (also known as The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands) was adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran and entered into force in 1975. Today, the Convention counts 154 Contracting Parties, which have committed themselves to ensuring the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Under the Convention, a list of wetlands of international importance (the Ramsar List) has been created and to date over 1640 designated sites around the world have been recorded.

Over the course of the Wings Over Wetlands project, Ramsar site data has been combined with those of the International Waterbird Census (IWC) and the Important Bird Areas (IBA) databases to create the Critical Site Network Tool. This significantly increased the information available for site identification and conservation throughout the African-Eurasian region. Information gaps have been filled through the new site identification tool and in combination with additional surveys, has helped identify new potentially important wetlands for the Ramsar Convention. Furthermore, many of the WOW project activities were directly and/or indirectly linked to the Ramsar Strategic Action Plan, which ensured the implementation of the Ramsar convention.




UNEP-WCMCThe UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) provides services to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP),  biodiversity-related Conventions, their member states and non-governmental bodies. It analyses and evaluates knowledge on biodiversity and makes it available to support the development and implementation of environmental policies.

In the context of the Wings Over Wetlands Project, UNEP-WCMC developed the Critical Site Network Tool based on the existing databases and resources of Wetlands International, BirdLife International, the Ramsar Convention and UNEP-AEWA. The tool combines different information on key sites along the African-Eurasian flyways and is publicly accessible through a central, easy to use web-based interface. The site network tool is the ultimately link the International Waterbird Census, Important Bird Areas and Ramsar databases to combine and make available currently dispersed information. The interface is accessible to the public, and is especially target policy makers and conservation practitioners alike.  As such, the tool is of enormous benefit towards flyway-scale management, as it significantly increases access to critical information needed for site identification and protective designation along all the African-Eurasian Flyways.




 Overall project

European Commission
Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, France
Environmental Protection Agency, Sweden
Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy
Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, France
Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape - BUWAL

Demonstration Projects

Estonian Ministry of Environment
State Nature Conservation Centre

Agropoint Ltd
Bihar Nature Conservation and Culture Public Foundation
BirdLife Hungary / MME

Institute of Ecology of Vilnius University
Lithuanian Ornithological Society
Ministry of Environment
State Protected Areas Service
Nemunas Delta Regional Park Directorate
The GEF Small Grants Programme

Wetlands International Africa Programme
Parc Nationale Banc d'Arguin (PNBA)
Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Fondation Internationale du Banc d'Arguin (FIBA)
Regional and Coastal Conservation Program for West Africa (PRCM)
Fundacion para el Desarrollo (IPADE)

Wetlands International Africa Programme
Ministére de l'Hydraulique de l'Environnement et de la Lutte Contre la Désertification
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Université Abdou Moumouni
The GEF Small Grants Programme

Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF)
FMWR-IUCN-NCF Komadugu Yobe Basin Project
Komadugu Yobe Basin Wetlands Development Initiative (KYB-WDI)
A.G. Leventis Foundation
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Senegal / The Gambia
Wetlands International Africa Programme
Ministere de l'Environnement et de la Protection de la Nature - Direction des Parcs Nationaux   
Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, The Gambia
The GEF Small Grants Programme

South Africa
BirdLife South Africa
Darwin Initiative
Endangered Wildlife Trust - South Africa Crane Working Group
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST)

Doğa Derneği
Burdur Municipality
Lisinia Project
Ministry of Environment and Forestry
The GEF Small Grants Programme

Environmental Protection Authority of Yemen
Yemen Society for the Protection of Wildlife
UNDP, Yemen
The GEF Small Grants Programme

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