Programa sobre los bosques y el agua

International Day for Biological Diversity: Raising awareness on the importance of the forest-water nexus for bird diversity (Este recurso solo está disponible en inglés).


The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) was established in 2000 by the United Nations to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues and it is celebrated on May 22.

 Forests are among the most important biodiversity repositories and home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. In particular, the forest-water nexus plays an essential role in supporting biological diversity by improving water quality, regulating water, as well as providing shelter, food, and ideal conditions for a wide number of aquatic and terrestrial species. Some waterbird communities, for example, rely on forest and water ecosystems for feeding, nesting and staging.

By supporting waterbirds, forest ecosystems are also supporting the ecological benefits waterbirds can provide, including pollination, pest control, seed dispersal, and nutrient cycling. They are also are great indicators of environmental quality and aquatic ecosystem health. For example, some species of waterbirds may be used as indicators of eutrophication of wetlands, as they are sensitive to trophic changes and ecosystem deterioration. Beyond their environmental importance, waterbirds also have social significance.

Throughout history, humans have observed and admired waterbirds, which are often pictured in art, folklore and stories. This is no coincidence as birdwatching, can provide wide benefits to society, including, better connection and appreciation for nature, reduction of stress and anxiety, and increase of physical health. In fact, globally, there have been reports of birdwatching increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent survey by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found that in the UK, two thirds of the population, relied on birds and their song to cope with the lockdowns. They also found that people were more aware of the biodiversity in their areas with similar trends observed all over the world.

Waterbirds are a favorite of birdwatchers and besides their social importance, they can bring economic benefits to communities. Birdwatching is one of the faster-growing subsectors of ecotourism, numbering around a hundred million practitioners all around the world.


The case of Murray-Darling Basin in Australia

The riparian forests and woodlands located along rivers the Murray-Darling Basin play an important role in connecting the landscape for woodland birds, as well as providing habitat for the numerous resident species that exist on floodplains.

Unfortunately, the functional connectivity of riparian forests is sometimes compromised due to inappropriate water management, forest degradation, and fragmentation. This may result in the alteration of the flood regimes, affecting the ability of forested floodplains to support water birds that rely on this ecosystem.  Decreasing bird diversity and abundance can lead to a chain reaction, further highlighting the important ecological role of bird communities. For example, a reduction in nectariferous and insectivorous birds may disrupt the benefits they provide for tree health maintenance and their regeneration. This problem could also extend into adjacent non-floodplain vegetation, evidencing the importance of restoring and maintaining the habitat for these birds in the Murray-Darling Basin.


It is, therefore, imperative to take action in order to conserve and improve the management of our forest and water resources, while ensuring the support and maintenance of biological diversity. The theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity for this year is "We're part of the solution ", which highlights that we can all be powerful agents of positive change for people and planet. The call is to work together, raising awareness on the forest-water nexus and its importance for biological diversity, in order to build a future of life in harmony with nature.