Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use voluntary agreements with local people to reduce disturbance

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

A before-and-after trial in the USA found significantly lower disturbance rates following the establishment of a voluntary waterfowl avoidance area (VWAA), despite an overall increase in boat traffic.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study 1986 in Lake Onalaska, Wisconsin and Minnesota, USA (Kenow et al. 2003), found that disturbances to waterfowl within a voluntary waterfowl avoidance area (VWAA) established in 1986 decreased significantly over time. Despite an increase in boating traffic (1.82 boating events/hour in 1986-8 vs. 2.58 in 1997), the 1997 disturbance rate were comparable to that in 1981. Rate of intrusion into the VWAA was lower in 1997 (0.11 intrusions/boating event) than in either 1986-8 (0.18) or 1993 (0.21). Boating disturbances to waterfowl within the VWAA occurred at about half the rate (0.24-0.28 disturbances/hour) observed prior to establishment of the program (0.48 disturbances/hour). The total number of waterfowl displacements observed as a result of boating events was 435,770 in 1993 and 71,155 in 1997. More than 90% of all waterfowl were observed within the VWAA.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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