Waste and Birds: The Ultimate Solution

Posted on Wed, 16/12/2020

Waste management is becoming a major problem along the Rift Valley - Red Sea Flyway (RVRSF) as human populations rise and industrialisation increases. Waste management sites provide a predictable food source for birds. Nevertheless, the improper management of waste has the potential to cause serious impacts on the environment and biodiversity.

Therefore, Migratory Soaring Birds (MSBs) Project, funded by GEF and coordinated by UNPD, organized a webinar entitled “Waste and Birds: The Ultimate Solution” on December 16th, 2020 to shed lights on adequate management of waste disposal sites taking soaring birds’ conservation into account.

The impacts of the management of different types of waste (domestic and hazardous solid wastes, sewage, and slaughterhouse) on birds was summarized by Alvaro Camina; Senior Environmental consultant, who introduced participants to the “Waste Management: Best practices to conserve Migratory Soaring Birds (MSBs) in the Rift Valley- Red Sea Flyway (RVRSF)” Report. This report aimed at proposing best practices guidelines for waste disposal sites which could provide valuable feeding habitats for birds if they are properly managed. Within this report, a waste management strategy that is sympathetic to MSBs is proposed for being used as conservation tool and to preserve migrant and wintering populations within the RVRSF.

Case studied from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were presented within the webinar. Mohammed Al Zoubi, an Avian Researcher at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) shared the experience of another EU project, Egyptian Vulture New Life, that aims at mitigating the main threats along the flyway of the Balkan population of the Egyptian vulture. Through his presentation, the work in two landfills in Jordan and one in Saudi Arabia was highlighted, representing the sites, threats, and solutions to minimize the numbers of dead birds within the sites.

In Al-Akaider landfill site in Jordan, as a part of Irbid-Mafraq Plains Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), they found more than 85 dead White Stork birds died under the medium-voltage (hazardous) powerlines within the landfill, and all these fatalities were due to electrocution. To minimize these fatalities, RSCN, through the Egyptian Vulture project, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Irbid Electricity Company to insulate the electrical networks surrounding the site.

Within Al-Lajjoun landfill site in Jordan, that is located next to slaughterhouses, many poisoned carcasses of stray dogs were found. Migratory birds are facing the risk of poisoning by feeding on these carcasses. To avoid this, RSCN worked with the Ministry of Local Administration to mainstream the best practices of waste management to conserve MSBs in the RVRSF and raise the workers within the landfill on the threats of poisoning stray dogs.

The Ushaiqer landfill site in Saudi Arabia, is considered as one of the largest gathering for the Steppe Eagles, approximately 6000 eagles. Steppe Eagles are facing the risk of poisoning by dead chickens and solid waste, as well as the risk of collision due to the existence of these lines on the migration corridor. Therefore, Egyptian Vulture project conducted a study to evaluate bird mortality due to electrocution and collision with powerlines along the southwest coast and the central part of Saudi Arabia. Based on the study’s outcomes, the project recommended urgent retrofitting of identified powerlines that cause mortality towards bird safe solutions.

Another case study from Egypt was highlighted by Dr. Gehad Rizk, a VET in Water and Wastewater Company in North and South Sinai, who talked about the situation of sewage water ponds in Sharm Elsheikh that caused environmental pollution in the past. Many MSBs were found dead in the pond due to poor management and inappropriate pond designs. To manage this issue, a protocol of cooperation was signed to decrease the pollution and cleaning sites. She also shared their plans for further development in waste management sector.

At the end of the webinar, the floor was opened for discussion that you can hear in the recorded webinar here.