Integrating Waterfowl Management

The  2012 NAWMP (2.6MB) ushered in an era of integration in waterfowl management. Efforts to formally integrate management actions, assess stakeholder values, evaluate harvest management strategies, and engage waterfowl conservation supporters remain as near-term challenges to the waterfowl conservation community.

"Re-Visioning Waterfowl Conservation"
In 2012, following several years of consultation with the waterfowl conservation community, a revised North American Waterfowl Management Plan was signed by the United States, Canada and Mexico. The revision provides a renewed and energized vision for the future of waterfowl and wetlands conservation. It presents an adaptable strategy to ensure abundant waterfowl populations and habitat to support hunting and other recreational uses; citizens connected to the outdoors and committed to conserving the special places they value; and a clean environment that sustains nature's ecological functions, human health and wildlife.

A companion  Action Plan (3.3MB) provides initial guidance and strategic ideas for implementing the 2012 Plan, with specific recommendations to achieve each of the Plan's three goals and integrating waterfowl management.

Work throughout 2013-14 led to  an addendum to the Plan (4.4MB), which outlines revised objectives for waterfowl populations, waterfowl habitat, and those who enjoy and actively support waterfowl and wetlands conservation. These revised objectives should guide waterfowl management as the Plan continues to evolve and as new information is acquired about supporters' values, habitat conservation is focused, and harvest management perspectives are assessed.

Additionally, the plan emphasizes educating the public about the benefits provided by waterfowl and wetlands. These include recreational activities such as hunting and bird watching, the economic boost provided by the many birding festivals held across the nation, and environmental services like flood water abatement, groundwater recharge, pollution filtration and soil erosion control.

People Conserving Waterfowl and Wetlands: The 2012 North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Officially subtitled "People Conserving Waterfowl and Wetlands," the 2012 Plan recognizes the key role played by hunters, conservationists and other citizens who are connected to the outdoors and committed to conserving the ecosystems and species they value. It also recognizes the importance of people to the success of waterfowl and wetlands conservation—the notion that the Plan can only succeed with broad public support for these three interrelated goals.

Three decades ago, waterfowl populations had plummeted to record lows. Historical data indicated that since the first settlers arrived 53 percent of the original 221 million wetland acres found in the contiguous United States had been destroyed. The habitat that waterfowl depend on for survival was disappearing at a rate of 60 acres per hour.

The picture was the same across Canada, where a large percentage of the United States' wintering waterfowl nest. Wetland losses across Canada were estimated to be 29 to 71 percent since settlement. Waterfowl were then and are now the most prominent and economically important group of migratory birds of the North American continent. By 1985, approximately 3.2 million people were spending nearly $1 billion annually to hunt waterfowl.

By 1985, interest in waterfowl and other migratory birds had grown in other arenas as well. About 18.6 million people observed, photographed, and otherwise appreciated waterfowl and spent $2 billion for the pleasure of doing it. Recognizing the importance of waterfowl and wetlands to North Americans and the need for international cooperation to help in the recovery of a shared resource, the U.S. and Canadian governments developed a strategy to restore waterfowl populations through habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement.

The strategy was documented in the  North American Waterfowl Management Plan (12.5MB) signed in 1986 by the Canadian Minister of the Environment and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the foundation partnership upon which hundreds of others would be built. With its  update in 1994, Mexico became a signatory to the Plan.

The  1998 update (2.5MB) expanded the Plan's vision: partners would implement the plan guided by biologically based planning, which would then be refined through ongoing evaluation; partners would define the landscape conditions needed to sustain waterfowl and benefit other wetland-associated species; and Plan partners would collaborate with other bird initiatives and reach out to others sectors and communities to forge broader alliances.

The theme for the  2004 update (2.2MB), "Strengthening the Biological Foundation", called upon Canadian, U.S. and Mexican partners to carry out a comprehensive, science-based assessment to help reshape investments and activities so that future habitat conservation efforts through the joint ventures would provide even greater returns for waterfowl and other wildlife over a 15 year time line.

The 2004 Plan was presented in two separate documents. The  "Implementation Framework" (2.3MB) provided details of the Plan's themes and included much supporting technical information for use by biologists and land managers. The companion document,  "Strategic Guidance" (2.2MB), was comparable in length and scope to the 1986 Plan and the updates of 1994 and 1998.

Last Updated: October 8, 2015