Important Bird Areas in Europe. By R. F. A. Grimmett and T. A. Jones. Illustrated by N. Arlott. ICBP Technical Publication No. 9. ICBP & IWRB, Cambridge, 1989. 888 pages; 36 line-drawings; 39 maps. Paperback £19.50.The word 'Important' certainly applies to this 900-page book, no less than to the 2,444 sites in just over 40 European territories which it summarily describes. By an immense editorial effort, it frames and consistently applies significant criteria as to the Important Bird concept in terms of species conservation; as to the definition and description of sites; and as to the relation of all these to leading international agreements, such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, the Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the World Heritage Convention, the Bern Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife and Natural Habitats, and the European Community's Directive and Resolution on the Conservation of Wild Birds, not forgetting the Barcelona Convention's List of Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas, the 90 Biosphere Reserves within 22 European countries of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme, and the 140 sites proposed for the European Network of Biogenetic Reserves. A mere ornithologist may wonder whether this great array of categories reflects true conservation needs rather than the rivalry of competing bureaucracies to mount the conservation bandwagon. Perhaps the best that can be said is that apart from bird aspects there are many others to be focused and reconciled for most of the sites, and that such lively competition is preferable to reliance on a sleepy or moribund monopoly of official recognition.  

Issue 11
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Dawson, I
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