UNEP notions wetlands can reduce avian flu threat

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    Martin W

      New report from UNEP suggests Restoration of Wetlands Key to Reducing Future Threats of Avian Flu
      from press release:

      Nairobi, 11 April 2006 – Restoring tens of thousands of lost and degraded wetlands could go a long way towards reducing the threat of avian flu pandemics a new report today says.

      The loss of wetlands around the globe (see notes to editors) is forcing many wild birds onto alternative sites like farm ponds and paddy fields, bringing them into direct contact with chickens, ducks, geese, and other domesticated fowl.

      Close contact of wild birds and poultry species is believed to be a major cause behind the spread of avian influenza.

      Clearing intensive poultry rearing units from the ‘flyways’ of migratory birds would also be prudent.

      “Intensive poultry operations along migratory wild bird routes are incompatible with protecting the health of ecosystems that birds depend upon. They also increase the risks of transfer of pathogens between migrating birds and domestic fowl,” says the study.


      The report looks like the product of people living in an ivory tower.

      Seems naive notion that “wetlands” are wild places, without people, and with birds. Maybe the authors should get out more, try a few places.

      Then, this idea about birds being “forced” into paddyfields etc. Not true either; we create good habitats for birds (albeit restricted diversity).
      (Having more, better protected wetlands – which I fully support, for other reasons – would surely lead to increase in populations; may be that nos to farmland wouldn’t change much).

      There’s bland notion about disease-carrying wild birds (no caveat, such as them being v poor carriers of HPAIs); we’ve seen it’s important to protect wild birds from disease carrying poultry.
      (As to protection from pandemics, also questionable; we now have a poultry pandemic, not human pandemic. Maybe someone should send them copy of Paul Ewald’s Evolution of Infectious Diseases.

      And what’s this about keeping intensive farming out of flyways??!! Haven’t these UN authors seen reports by their UN colleagues in FAO, showing how flyways span the globe. Or maybe they are suggesting moving intensive chicken farms to outer space?

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