In 1986, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (Plan) was signed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the Canadian Minister of the Environment, with a goal of restoring waterfowl populations to levels of the 1970s via habitat conservation. Central to the Plan is a set of ambitious continental population goals and habitat objectives to be met through broad-based public-private partnerships. Inadequate attention has been paid to evaluation of the Plan, despite the fact that Plan delivery can be enhanced via improved understanding of the effects of habitat conservation on waterfowl population dynamics. Several factors confound the effort to evaluate the Plan at regional and continental levels, including difficulties in accounting for national land-use policies. To date, evaluation has proceeded along 2 avenues of investigation: (1) the study of conservation actions at local-regional levels, and (2) statistical assessment of Plan assumptions. Among other things, results thus far indicate duck production from the U.S. Northern Great Plains has increased in recent years, and intensive treatments such as planted cover have had positive effects on local reproductive success. Many duck species currently exceed Plan population goals; however, population levels of some species, most notably northern pintail (Anas acuta), remain below expectations based on historic relationships with precipitation. Management implications include the need for ongoing and more carefully prioritized conservation efforts, broader partnerships, and improved understanding of the linkages between habitats and biological processes. Delivery of the Plan must involve collaboration among the Continental Evaluation Team, joint Venture partners, the Adaptive Management and Assessment Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other conservation groups. Although the challenges and projected costs of Plan conservation efforts are considerable, the long-term potential benefits to waterfowl conservation are great.
Additional publication details
Evaluation of waterfowl conservation under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan