Working Groups

AEWA Bewick’s Swan International Expert Group

The Northwest European population of Bewick’s Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii is of conservation concern because its numbers are in decline. There was an increase in population size during the 1960s–1990s, but a coordinated international census in January 2005 recorded a total of c. 21,500 birds, a 27% decrease on the peak count of 29,277 made in January 1995.

In September 2009, 30 Bewick’s Swan experts therefore gathered at a planning workshop in Saint Petersburg, hosted by Lenobl Priroda (a fund for supporting nature conservation in the Leningrad region), and organised jointly by Wetlands International (WI) and the WI-IUCN SSC Swan Specialist Group. Participants identified major threats to the swans and developed a plan for the monitoring, research and conservation work required to halt and reverse the population decline.

Following the action planning workshop, an International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the Northwest European Population of the Bewick’s Swan was prepared. Drafts of the plan went through rigorous consultations including comments from experts, the range states and the AEWA Technical Committee. The final version was adopted by the 5th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to AEWA in May 2012, and can be viewed at The overall purpose of the plan is, in the long term, to maintain a minimum population of 23,000 swans, the level recorded during the January 2000 census.

In 2014, an AEWA International Bewick’s Swan Expert Group was established to guide the implementation of the Action Plan.  The remit of the Group is to:

    • Set priorities for action and implement them;
    • Coordinate the overall international implementation;
    • Raise funds for implementation;
    • Assist Range States in producing national action plans;
    • Ensure regular and thorough monitoring of the species populations;
    • Stimulate and support scientific research in the species necessary for conservation;
    • Promote the protection of the network of critical sites for the species;
    • Facilitate internal and external communication and exchange of scientific, technical, legal and other required information, including with other specialists and interested parties;
    • Assist with information in determination of the population size and trends of the species;
    • Regularly monitor the effectiveness of implementation of the SSAP and take appropriate action according to the findings of this monitoring;
    • Regularly report on the implementation of the SSAP to the AEWA Meeting of the Parties by submitting reports to the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat; and
    • Revise the international SSAP by 2022 and update it as required.

The AEWA Bewick’s Swan International Expert Group (NW European Population) is comprised of: (1) representatives of Governmental bodies of all key Range States relevant to the implementation of AEWA, (2) representatives of national expert and conservation organisations from all key Range States, (3) representatives of international organisations, and (4) other experts as required. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and AEWA agrees that the WWT will host the post of Coordinator of the Bewick’s Swan Expert Group, currently held by Eileen Rees. The Coordinator is in charge of the operations of the International Expert Group, and acts in close consultation with the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat and the Chair (to be appointed) of the Expert Group.