Recognizing our coast’s unique shorebird habitat

WHSRN Designation:

Georgia's coast is a landscape of global importance

The coast of Georgia provides a rich shorebird environment, annually supporting tens of thousands of migrating shorebirds of more than 20 species. Our coast is especially important to migrating and wintering Red Knots (Calidris canutus), Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) and Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus). Georgia has documented over 50% of the threatened rufa Red Knot subspecies on our coast. We also host significant numbers of nesting American Oystercatcher and Wilson’s Plover. Every changing season is a great season for shorebirds across our 100 miles.

One Hundred Miles is proud to be a member of the Georgia Shorebird Alliance, a partnership between governments, researchers, NGO, and private citizens committed to advancing shorebird and seabird conservation. The Shorebird Alliance isnominating Georgia’s barrier islands and marshlands to be designated a “landscape of hemispheric importance for shorebirds.” Our role is to coordinate the outreach around this important effort to bring attention to the significance of the Georgia coast as critical wintering and foraging habitat for migrating shorebirds. This designation would bring increased awareness to our region, promote our nature based economy and also bring international funding opportunities for conservation and research to our coast.

The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

whsrn_logoThe Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) is a long-standing conservation strategy for celebrating and protecting shorebirds over a wide geographic range in North and South America. Currently, there are 95 sites in North America meeting WHSRN criteria, supporting shorebirds in all three stages of habitat need: nesting, migration, and non-nesting. The Altamaha River Delta was dedicated as a coastal Georgia site of regional importance by the WHSRN Council in 1999.

Biologists and bird enthusiasts recognize that valuable shorebird habitat is found through the entirety of our coastal landscape – this includes the Altamaha River Delta, as well as the estuaries, saltmarshes, barrier island beaches, and sand bars.

To bring attention to the significance of the Georgia coast and encourage management efforts that protect these species, members of the Georgia Shorebird Alliance have agreed to nominate Georgia’s barrier islands and marshlands to be designated a WHSRN “landscape of hemispheric importance for shorebirds.”

A WHSRN designation is non-regulatory and serves to:

  • Raise public awareness about the value of shorebirds and the importance of coastal habitats.
  • Recognize a unique system of international sites across the western hemisphere and conservation efforts in those areas.
  • Promote a suite of year-round conservation activities and education to help protect shorebird species of concern.
  • Generate conservation funding opportunities.
  • Serve as a resource for planning and conservation efforts related to shorebird and habitat conservation.

For the nomination to be considered, the WHSRN Council, recommends diverse partners support the nomination and land owners/managers submit a letter of support. Many local governments within designated areas have adopted resolutions demonstrating their support for shorebirds and birdwatchers, and many businesses promote the designation to boost local pride and encourage visitors.

To request a presentation or to send in a letter of support for Georgia’s shorebird conservation, visit www.onehundredmiles.org or contact Alice Keyes, VP of Coastal Conservation at [email protected].