Agreement protects migratory shorebirds at Chinese stopover sites
Two species of shorebirds will now be better protected as they tackle 12,000km migration journeys.
Department of Conservation director-general, Lou Sanson and vice-minister Chen Fengxue, the Chinese minister responsible for the State Forestry Administration signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Friday at the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre to protect migratory shorebirds and their habitats.
The agreement will help protect two wetland sites in China where red knot and bar-tailed godwits refuel on their way to New Zealand - Yalu Jiang Nature Reserve and Luannan on Bohai Bay.
Red knots breed in Siberia and the godwits breed in Alaska.
Fengxue said it was important for New Zealand and China to save dwindling bird populations.
"It is humbling to see these small birds that fly non-stop between our two countries. They form a bridge between New Zealand and China. They connect us as people. We will work together to keep the bridge open," he said.
The agreement had come together after a year of intense work with the Chinese government, Sanson said.
"It shows you with diplomacy what you can do with conservation."
Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre manager, Keith Woodley said it was vital to preserve the two sites.
"Godwit and red knot populations are declining. To protect these birds we must protect their habitats, both here in New Zealand as well as in East Asia where they stopover during migration," he said.
"We'd like to thank the New Zealand and Chinese governments for the steps they have taken today to protect migratory shorebirds. It will keep the birds coming."
Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust chairman, Gary Thompson said it was a great result for the area.
"As mana-whenua and kaitiaki of the rohe and in particularly where the birds are, it's just nice to be able to make the connection with the manu and Bohai Bay."
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson said it was a privilege to be at the signing.
"The Memorandum of Understanding could be deemed an insurance policy to guarantee these incredible birds will not just survive but flourish" said Scott Simpson.
In the last 20 years the number of red knot visiting New Zealand has dropped from 65,000 to 35,000.
The red knot population is declining about 5 per cent a year, while godwits are declining at 2 per cent a year.