Coastal wetlands are important stepping stones and wintering sites for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). But wetlands are being extensively converted throughout Southeast and East Asia, and continued loss can disrupt the long-distance migrations, and result in species population declines and extirpations. Wetlands are also under threat from global climate change; sea level rise can inundate coastal wetlands, and the two forces of coastal development and climate change can subject the remaining wetlands to coastal squeeze. Therefore important wetlands along the flyway should be assessed for the impacts of climate change to implement proactive climate adaptation strategies. The Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site in Hong Kong is an important staging and wintering site along the EAAF. A climate model for this wetland showed that by 2100 some of the wetlands and mudflats used by migratory birds could become inundated. In the future, under climate change scenarios, fishponds further inland, now within the ‘wise-use’ compartment of the Ramsar site, could represent supratidal wetlands for migratory birds. Therefore, these fishponds should be maintained and managed without the threat of conversion by providing economic incentives for fishpond operators. This analysis represents a case study for climate proofing the EAAF by engaging fishpond owners and operators for sustained management of coastal fishponds as an integrated approach for wetland management that includes aquaculture, sustainable livelihoods, bird habitat conservation, and climate-proofing coastal areas.
Eric Wikramanayake1*, Carmen Or1, Felipe Costa2, Xianji Wen1, Fion Cheung1, Aurélie Shapiro3