Opening remarks

The World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls


Welcome on behalf of BirdLife International

It is an honour and a pleasure, on behalf of the BirdLife International Partnership and Secretariat, to greet you all at the opening of the 6th World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls.  This is a meeting of great international importance.  Never before have the world’s birds been under greater threat from man-induced causes.  Fortunately, the world of Birds of Prey contains some excellent conservation success stories, with species recovering thanks to your efforts to halt or reverse declines brought about through heavy use of pesticides or other forms of habitat destruction and persecution.  Overall however, pressures continue with new threats, such as wind farms and climate change, emerging as previous threats are overcome. 

Scientific networks such as the World Working Group on Birds of Prey are vital for gathering, analysing and disseminating sound information and data to underpin and prioritise conservation decision making and actions.  The World Working Group has a long and distinguished history of carrying out such science and applying it to the conservation of one of the most charismatic groups of birds in the world. This work is particularly important, given the crucial role played by raptors in ecosystem health and balance.

I very much regret that I am not able, on this occasion, to be with you personally, but am delighted that MME, BirdLife in Hungary, is your host.  They are an outstanding organisation doing tremendous things for conservation in Hungary and working collaboratively with other European Partners for pan-European conservation efforts.  I am sure they will be immensely hospitable.  I am delighted to see that BirdLife will also be represented by a number of other Partners and representatives from our small Secretariat, including our Leventis Fellow in Conservation Biology, a position held by Dr Nigel Collar, jointly with the University of Cambridge, who is delivering this message on my behalf. 

I am pleased that BirdLife’s predecessor, ICBP, helped to establish the World Working Group on Birds of Prey, and since 1964 has worked with the many national and international specialists on the science and conservation of raptors.  I look forward to even stronger collaboration in the future. 

In closing, may I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank you for all your efforts for the conservation of Birds of Prey and Owls, and urge you to continue with all these efforts.  Your dedication, enthusiasm and determination is of great importance for the world’s birds and their habitats.  Thank you, and may you have a most productive and successful conference. 


Dr Michael Rands
Director & Chief Executive
BirdLife International

© 2003 CTM