IAF Autumn News

Mongolia Conference "Falconry Heritage and the Present Situation in Asia”and the Cultural Festival Shubuulahui

The conference and festival took place in the Bogdy Haan Uul National park, 25km west of Ulaanbaatar. In the lead up the Mongolian Falconers Club (principle organizers) strengthened their relationship with their wildlife and cultural authorities and an IAF presence was important in promoting this.

This relationship is a major step and revives, to all intents and purposes, the falconry of Chinghis Khan, cultural icon of a Mongolia that has been searching for its roots since the loss of so much of its culture in Chinese and Japanese occupations and a communist revolution.

Important participants were from the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia, from Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, National University of Mongolia, the Mongolian Heritage Centre and the Mongolian Falconry Association. An extract of the IAF presentation is here for your information. "Preserving and promoting falconry heritage and culture across the world – an IAF perspective"

"The reason why falconry sits so comfortably in UNESCO is that intangible cultural heritage must be transmitted from generation to generation, constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their historical conditions of existence. It must provide people with a sense of identity and continuity, and its safeguarding should promote, sustain and develop cultural diversity and human creativity.

Passing the element down the generations means artificial boundaries, like languages, lines on maps, like political or religious divisions or ethnic considerations are transcended. This happens when the cultural element defines the community, effectively the Tribe of Falconers.

But what exactly is IAF? IAF is communication and it can communicates the problems discovered in other countries to those who might suffer from the same problems in the future. Merely adding falconry to a list of Intangible Cultural Heritage is not the end of the project. UNESCO insists regular reports are made, explaining how the communities and governments are actively working to preserve the element – making favourable laws, encouraging education, demonstrating the element to other communities in their country (like this festival).

IAF has a Vice-president for Asia. This has, for the last three years been our great friend Bakyt Karnakbayev, who has made all these contacts and grown the IAF family so successfully in all of Asia. On January 1st he retires and our new Vice-president for Asia will be Keiya Nakajima of Japan, but who after him? IAF needs people from Asia to get involved at an international level. Why not a President from Mongolia, or Kirghizstan or China? In this region you have one of the most ancient falconries; it is also one of the most dynamic."

In the days after the conference a festival entertained speakers, delegates, members of the public, tourists and television viewers. These Central Asian Festivals (especially those attached to formal academic conferences) are very important in preservating the UNESCO intangible element, in the preservation falconry in the region.

Meeting of the IAF Biodiversity Working Group with MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, President of the Parliamentary Intergroup "Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside"

"Der Schutz unseres Naturkapitals hat für mich sehr hohe Priorität. Wenn alle mitanpacken, können wir das Problem des Artenrückgangs auch lösen. Greening kann ein ordentlicher Ansatz sein, auch wenn es nicht meine Idealvorstellung ist", Karl-Heinz Florenz, MEP.

“The protection of our natural capital is of very high priority for me. If everyone gets involved, we could solve the problem of decreasing biodiversity. GREENING might be a potential and useful approach, even if it is not my ideal conception”, Karl-Heinz Florenz, MEP.

Am 12.8.2015 wurden Stephan Wunderlich und Dr. Michael Greshake von der Arbeitsgruppe Biodiversität innerhalb der International Association of Falconry freundlicherweise von Herrn Karl-Heinz Florenz, Mitglied des Europäischen Parlaments und Vorsitzender der dortigen Parlamentarsichen Intergruppe „Biodiversität, Jagd, ländliche Aktivitäten“ in Groß-Opholt empfangen. Herr Florenz bewirtschaftet in Neukirchen-Vluyn ein familieneigenes landwirtschaftliches Anwesen auf konventionelle Art und Weise.

On the 12th of August 2015, Dr. Michael Greshake and Stephan Wunderlich, members of the IAF- Working Group for Biodiversity were welcomed by Karl-Heinz FLORENZ, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Intergroup „Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside“ in Groß-Opholt, Germany. FLORENZ manages a family-owned conventional farming estate.

Der Grund für dieses Gespräch sind die Artenverluste der beackerbaren Offenflächen, die von den Falknern als existentiell empfunden werden: kein Wild, keine Falknerei. In diesem Gespräch haben beide Falkner darauf hingewiesen, dass es aber um deutlich mehr geht, als um den Focus auf ihr Beizwild - ist doch der Artenverlust eng verknüpft mit der Boden-, Luft- und Wasserqualität, als auch damit unser Klima. Im weitesten Sinne geht es um die nachhaltige Sicherung unserer Umwelt, um ein ansprechendes Landschaftsbild, aber auch um das Bewahren unserer landwirtschaftlichen Produktionsflächen. Mit dieser Sichtweise würde man bei Herrn Florenz, wie er sagte, " offene Scheunentore einrennen". Er wies aber auch darauf hin, dass er als konventioneller Landwirt mit dieser Sichtweise Akzeptanzschwierigkeiten bei den Landwirtschaftsfunktionären hat.

The reason for this meeting was the loss of species of the open farmland, that are considered to be essential for falconers: no game, no falconry. During the meeting, both falconers clearly pointed out, that there is much more at stake than “only” the loss of game: the loss of biodiversity is closely linked to the quality of water, soil and air as well as to our climate. In the broadest sense the issue raised concerns the sustainable conservation of the environment, attractive landscapes and our agricultural land. Confronting him with this perception would be like “preaching to the converted” Mr FLORENZ said. Still, he mentioned, that this perspective causes personal difficulties in being accepted by Presidents and officials of the farming sector.

Konsens unter den Beteiligten war, dass vieles nicht verstanden ist, was zu den Artenrückgängen geführt hat. Aber auch, dass wir sehr viel darüber wissen, wie wir die Situation verbessern können. Herr Florenz setzt nach wie vor auf freiwillige Umweltmaßnahmen der Landwirte um diese Berufsgruppe nicht weiter an das Gängelband zu legen. Als Tatsache wird aber auch registriert, dass die freiwilligen Umweltmaßnahmen mindestens in Deutschland stark rückläufig sind u.a. durch täglichen Flächenverbrauch oder durch den Anbau von Energiepflanzen. "

It was agreed during the meeting, that a lot is yet unknown, regarding the reasons for the loss of biodiversity, but that a lot is known about how to improve the situation. FLORENZ still promotes voluntary measures for farmers rather than putting them under pressure from government. However, it was also noticed, that these voluntary measures are used less and less in Germany, due to e.g. the daily loss of farmland and the increasing area used for energy crops.

Eine Alternative kann ein gut gestaltetes GREENING der gemeinsamen Agrarpolitik sein. „Das EU-Greening ist zwar nicht mein Steckenpferd, aber nun ist es in 28 EU-Ländern beschlossen und die Ausführung muss jetzt in die richtige Richtung gehen. Dazu müssen sich alle Betroffenen an einen Tisch setzen und vernünftige Konzepte erarbeiten", so Florenz. Durch u.a. Anrechnung von Zwischenfrüchten kommt es vielerorts aber zu keinerlei für den Erhalt der Artenvielfalt messbaren Effekten. Florenz: "Genau das haben wir seit vielen Jahren auf Groß Opholt gemacht. Das hat für die Biodiversität aber nichts gebracht."

„Well implemented GREENING-measures in the framework of the Common Agricultural Politic might be a good alternative. “The current GREENING is not in my favourite field of expertise, but it was agreed upon by 28 European Member States and must now be implemented and used in the right way. To achieve this, all the stakeholders need to sit at one table and work on reasonable concepts.” stated Mr FLORENZ. Catch crop cultivation for example, though accepted as GREENING-measure, in most cases doesn´t lead to measurable positive effects on biodiversity. “This is exactly what we were practicing at Groß-Opholt for years. There was no positive effect on biodiversity”, FLORENZ said.

Ebenfalls Einigkeit bestand darüber, dass wir Flächen in den Flächen benötigen, die nicht gedüngt und nicht mit systemischen Pflanzenbehandlungsmitteln behandelt werden, wie es auch das Bundesministerium für Umwelt empfiehlt. Desweiteren müssen die Flächen besonnt sein, als auch einen bestimmten Pflanzenaufwuchs aufweisen. Auf die Frage von Herrn Florenz, wie dies gestaltet sein muss, antwortete Herr Greshake, dass das nach Gebietskulisse sehr unterschiedlich sein muss, je nach gewünschtem Schutzziel: Der Pflanzenbewuchs für Wildbestäuber ist ein anderer als für die Honigbiene. Will man etwas für das Rebhuhn tun, wird die Bestellung der ökologischen Vorrangflächen wiederum völlig anders aussehen müssen. Diese Entscheidung sollte vor Ort durch die beteiligten Landwirte, Jäger, Naturschützer, Imker und Angler entschieden werden. Herr Florenz hält so ein Vorgehen für schwer umsetzbar und fordert einfachere Lösungen.

The participants of the meeting agreed that areas, dedicated to halt the loss of biodiversity on farmland, would have to be non-fertilized nor treated with systemic plant protecting products (as recommended by the German Ministry for environment/BMU). In addition, these areas would have to be exposed to direct sunlight in order to show a certain vegetation. Regarding the question of Mr FLORENZ on how to exactly create such areas, Dr GRESHAKE said that “This very much depends on the objective of protection”. Protecting (wild) pollinators requires different kinds of vegetation then the protection of honey bees, for example. If partridge is in the focus of conservation efforts, the type of the respective areas again has to be completely different. The decisions must be made on site by farmers, hunters, conservationists, beekeepers and fishermen in common. Mr. FLORENZ does find such procedure hard to be realized and asks for simple solutions,

Unabdingbar zur Gestaltung dieser Flächen ist aber die gute landwirtschaftliche Praxis, oder wie Jeff Coates es von der Firma Syngenta formulierte: "it is a crop". Die einstige Artenvielfalt in Mitteleuropa ist bedingt durch die Form der Landwirtschaft, durch diese reduziert und wird nur in einem guten Konsens mit den Landwirten eine Verbesserung erfahren. Für Herrn Florenz ist ein Grund, warum das Greening unter den Landwirten eine schlechte Akzeptanz hat: häufig fehlende Information zu dem Wissen, welches es zurzeit gibt. Er machte den Vorschlag zu einer Veranstaltung unter Federführung der Arbeitsgruppe "Biodiversität, Jagd, ländliche Aktivitäten" des EU-Parlamentes, um noch einmal dieses wichtige Thema unter den Parlamentariern in Erinnerung zu rufen und präsenter zu machen, da 2015 und 2016 die aktuelle Agrarsubventionspolitik unter Beobachtung steht.

Best agricultural practice methods are essential for these areas or, as Jeff Coates of Syngenta said: those sites have to be managed as crop. The formerly rich biodiversity of central Europe was actually triggered by farming methods. Nowadays biodiversity is sometimes negatively affected by farming methods. Only a common approach with farmers will lead to an improvement. According to FLORENZ, one reason for the often low acceptance of GREENING measures amongst farmers is a lack of knowledge-transfer to those, who are affected by the GREENING. Mr FLORENZ suggested to organize a common event in the framework of the Intergoup Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside on the topic of GREENING and Biodiversity in order to make the Members of the Parliament more aware of this important topic, especially with regard to the review of the GAP in 2015 and 2016.

Herr Florenz wies aber mehrfach in dem Gespräch darauf hin, dass die Umsetzungen der EU-Maßnahmen durch die Ministerien aus den Bundesländern erfolgt und hier immer wieder das Gespräch von Seiten der Jäger und anderer Naturschützer gesucht werden muss.

During the conversation FLORENZ pointed out several times that the implementation of EU-legislation is done by regional ministries. Therefore hunters and other conservationists must insist on further discussions.

The Perdix Portal

The loss of biodiversity in open country cannot be solved by the private engagement of hunters and voluntary conservationists; a successful solution must be based on the actions of politics. The concept of “green infrastructure” (e.g. Greening) under the Common Agricultural Policy might be a solution, but the implementation in several member states of the EU - mainly France and Germany, is not sufficient. Engagement in this not only serves game species, but biodiversity in general and we, as falconers, are just a part of a network consisting of conservationists and land-users.

“The Perdix Portal“

Partridge is seen as the indicator-species for all endangered species in farm-land as historically it was one of the most common species in Europe and is still one of the most important small game species of many countries.

The IAF Working group for Biodiversity is creating a web-based platform for interchanging European knowledge. It will consist of:

  1. General existing information about partridges and other species of animals and plants that are in evidence where partridges exist
  2. Best practice guidelines based on country-specific information according to the three most successful related projects
  3. Common European guidelines and demands as quintessence

Costs for the basic installation of the portal are estimated as €5000 once-off, then €2000 p.a. for the maintenance. 2015 and 2016 are the observation period for the actual measurements of “Greening”, so we would be able to present the different guidelines to MEP´s and the Commission. For specific lobbying FACE has offered its support.

In order to acquire the necessary funding we are addressing all European falconry organisations. As positive side-effect we are creating additional awareness among the entire falconry-community concerning the loss of biodiversity. The Deutsche Falkenorden has set a good example and donated € 2600 towards the intial funding of the Perdix Portal.

We won´t realise the changes without help and support from third parties; it is our duty to start this because of our general responsibility as falconers, which depends on intact environments

Reports provided by the IAF Working Group for Biodiversity

IAF at the Conference on Migratory Species

CMS Raptors MoU Trondheim, Norway. Robert Kenward on behalf of IUCN presented on the Saker Portal, a very special moment for worldwide falconry and for IAF. This is a first widely accepted conservation project financed by IAF in cooperation with IUCN, Birdlife and CMS Raptors MoU.

Much of the meeting was devoted to the vulture crisis. Falconers and IAF are deeply involved in resolving the vulture crisis through studies, especially those financed by the Peregrine Fund, and work in the field and on projects proposed in Africa and Asia, especially Pakistan. 

IAF had its own side event:  “Electrocution of birds of prey – a real threat to Saker Falcon”. Current data coming from satellite tracked birds shows how traditional ornithologists have vastly underestimated the numbers killed by electrocution. IAF is actively looking for help with this issue, arguing at falconry festivals, conferences and meeting to seek for solutions and sponsors who can help mitigate the most dangerous lines in Mongolia and other countries. This is one of the Saker GAP Flagship projects. It is time no to debate, it is time to act. We hope to announce very soon some positive movements on this path.

Over 300 sakers electrocuted in just 56 km of 15 kV line

IAF is proposing a resolution to the IUCN asking to introduce a rule that will only allow bird-safe poles in any new constructions. Banks and governments are being asked to introduce this, the role of banks in funding investments is crucial – national, global and international, private and state institutions.

For the first time, a falconry organisation was invited by BirdLife International to take part in their side event at an international convention; our constant conservation work is being noticed and appreciated. 

The BirdLife side event was on the prevention of illegal killing and trade of birds of prey. IAF approved its own statement regarding the Illegal Wildlife Trade many years ago. It is clear for us that the best way to fight illegal trade and trapping is to legalize sustainable use as widely as possible. Falconers worldwide should have a right to use a reasonable numbers of wild birds of prey. That will help to protect them from illegal trade. We are promoting the mark and bank scheme, which includes marking legally obtained birds with chips and non-removable rings and banking their genetic material for future eventual investigation. IAF is against illegal killing and illegal trade in birds of prey. Sustainable, legal and controlled use is a preferable solution.

Janusz Sielicki

Other conferences and meetings with IAF presence

The Bern Convention 5th meeting of the Group of Experts on the Conservation of Birds, Strasbourg, 12-13 October 2015. European experts on ‪bird conservation gathered in ‪Strasbourg last Monday for two intensive days of discussions on issues such as illegal killing of birds, a species action plan for the osprey, adaptive harvest management and new online data sharing tools.

IAF sits at Bern Convention Meetings as an Expert NGO; on this occasion we did not have to intervene. The meeting was largely to ratify reports and decisions made at the Special Focal Points for Illegal Killing of Birds meeting, Madrid, February 2015, (see IAF's Spring eBulletin). The decisions of the Group of Experts, including a draft Recommendation on the gravity factors and sentencing principles for the evaluation of offences against birds, will be forwarded to the Standing Committee at its meeting on 1-4 December 2015.

 IUCN Members Meeting: "Shaping IUCN’s work programme for 2017-2020 in the EU policy context", 12 October,hosted by IUCN Brussels office, with its Brussels-based members and partners. The aim of the working meeting was to discuss and shape IUCN’s European work plan for the period of 2017-2020 in the context of EU policies on biodiversity and nature conservation. The outcomes of this meeting will also feed into the consultation process on the IUCN Global Programme 2017-2020.

The IUCN activities will also strengthen the implementation of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and use scientific input to mainstream biodiversity across cross-sectoral fields such as the Post-2015 Agenda. This meeting was an important opportunity for IAF to be part and to contribute to the IUCN European Planning in the run up to IUCN Regional Conservation Forumin Helsinki, December 2015.

The themes covered in the meeting were nature-based solutions, climate change adaptaton and mitigation, protected areas, species, EU outermost regions and global policy. The meeting wasn’t so interesting for IAF issues (birds were not mentioned at all) but it was important for IAF to be there and let the other IUCN members hear about IAF.

Patrizia Cimberio

Intergroup on Hunting & Biodiversity of the European Parliament and FACE organized an event in Brussels to discuss the public consultation on the fitness of the Birds and Habitats Directives, a consultation many falconers took part in earlier this year. IAF attended.

The meeting was chaired by MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz (see above) and the audience was 70-80 people, mainly MEPs and NGO representatives. Speakers included Wouter Langhout, EU Nature Policy Officer for Birdlife Europe, whose views on the Fitness Check are identical to those of the falconers and the other hunters, namely that the directives themselves are good, but enforcement by national government is variable and often inadequate. 

The new head of Nature in DG Environment of the European Commission, Nicolo Notaro, stated the overwhelming majority of responses to the public consultation on the Birds and Habitats Directives were to keep them as they are. A final report is expected by the end of January. He stated that a huge range of socio-economic groups are affected and all their concerns would be taken into consideration.

Malta - an intense meeting was held in the IAF Brussels office to discuss new member applications from Malta and to plan for a meeting later in the month with the Wild Birds Regulation Unit of Malta who were planning new falconry legislation. Present were representatives of the current IAF Member Organization for Malta (Club Fredericus Rex) and the applicant member orgizations: the Malta Falconers' Club and the FKNK (Malta Federation for Hunting and Conservation). Also present: IAF VP for Europe, Professor Tom Richter, IAF's  EO, Gary Timbrell, and Filippo Segato, Secretary General of FACE. 

A number of questions were answered and important issues resolved, resulting in a unified set of points being prepared and a very positive meeting with the Maltese government later in the month. We await with anticipation a new draft of the law relating to falconry regulation.

Belgium - Flemish Animal Welfare Law. A meeting in the Brussels office between representatives of the Belgian falconry clubs and the veterinary welfare officers of the Flemish region was chaired by Kris Ulens of the Belgian Federation and moderated by Professor Tom Richter, IAF Vice-president for Europe, IAF's specialist officer for Animal Welfare. Changes in Belgian Animal Welfare Law pertinent to falconry had been originally worked on the the late 1990's by the government and by the falconers. These had been shelved with political changes, but were now subject to revival, but specifically in the Flemish region. The meeting was positive, with IAF presenting our Guidelines for the General Welfare of Falconry Raptors (approved Doha 2014) , which were well received. Professor Richter emphasized that all animal welfare issues must be scientific and evidence based, not founded upon emotions. 

Here you could also download official copy of this letter.