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Official Magazine of the Nature Society (Singapore)
  Like-minded meet
to protect future for birds

The Bird Group's secretary, Lim Kim Seng was a participant at BirdLife International's Global Partnership Meeting and 22nd World Conference at Awana Resort, Genting Highlands, Malaysia, 9 - 17 October 1999. He shares his experience of this regional meeting.

Conducted every five years, this is BirdLife International's periodic global review of its "business" in the last five years with aims of setting its goals, objectives and challenges for the next five years.

BirdLife International is a global partnership of over 100 nature and nature conservation non-governental organisations worldwide. Formerly known as the International Council for Bird Preservanon (ICBP), it is headquartered in the United Kingdom and is active in various local, regional and international conservation programmes under the BirdLife International banner.

Exhibition on the work of BirdLife International
It also works with other agencies and organisations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Wetlands International. The Gurney's Pitta Conservation Project in south Thailand and the Bali Myna Reintroduction Programme in Indonesia are two examples of BirdLife's programmes in Asia. NSS is a partner of BirdLife International.

Delegates met at Awana Hotel, a resort set amongst the lush tropical montane forests of Genting Highlands, Malaysia. The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) had organised this week-long conference with great efficiency and customary hospitality.

The Global Partnership Meeting was declared opened by MNS President Dato Salleh on 10 October. This comprised Global and Regional Council Meetings and Reports, Summary of Achievements from 1994 - 1999, and the presentation and adoption of BirdLife's New Strategy called BirdLife 2000. Many workshops on BirdLife's primary conservation objectives for birds, sites, habitats and people took up much of the five-day meeting. Various themes like bird trade, fund-raising and ecotourism were discussed, and action plans formulated.

Lunch and tea breaks provided a brief respite from the monotony of the meetings and a chance to meet like-minded people from all over the world. At night, there were the looked-for dinners, video shows and social events such as Asian Night and African Night which acted as icebreakers. Ideas and namecards were exchanged and many friends made during the conference.

The delegates were out birdwatching in full force
before the start of each day's meetings
The early mornings prior to the commencement of workshops and seminars were fully utilised by the avid birders amongst the participants. MNS and NSS members took turns to guide overseas visitors on bird walks within the Awana Resort area, and along the Old Gombak and Old Pumphouse roads which are well-known areas for birding.

The Awana Resort trail was particularly memorable for the large numbers of Long-tailed Broadbill and other spectacular birds like Red-headed Trogon, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Rufous-collared Kingfisher and Siberian Blue Robin. Some lucky birders even saw the Scrow, an endangered wild goat, up on a crag.

The end of the Partnership Meeting saw the start of the 22nd World Conference. After dinner, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Honorary President of BirdLife opened the International Conservation Fair and Exhibition. NSS had a booth displaying our publications, souvenir badges and conservation work as well as some eyecatching impromptu bird art displays by Sutari Supari and Andrew Tay.

The World Conference proper was opened the next day. Present were the Chairman of BirdLife, Dr Gerard Betrand, Dato Salleh and BirdLife CEO and Director-General, Dr Mike Rands. This was followed by a speech from Queen Noor who outlined BirdLife's challenges and opportunities over the next five years. Seminars in the afternoon and for the next three days were set on the following themes: Birds, Biodiversity and People; Birds as Barometers; Saving The Birds, Saving the Future; and Turning Strategy into Action. The highly successful Bird Fair continued for a second day.

The highlight of the conference was the launch of BirdLife's Strategy (BirdLife 2000) document and its motto "Together for Birds and People" via video at the end of the nine-day programme. The grand farewell dinner that followed was themed "Jungle Nite", alluding to the conference site. Goodbyes and cheers were exhanged as the celebration of the successful conclusion of the conference continued through the night. This World Conference had been one long week of arduous but important discussions, but a week that held a future for birds and people. In all, over 700 people from more than 100 countries participated in this conference.

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