• Kyodo

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The governments of Japan and Australia agreed Wednesday to cooperate in creating a network to protect the habitats of migratory birds in the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese government officials said.

They made the accord at the U.N. summit on sustainable development, currently being held in South Africa.

The two countries aim at incorporating about a quarter of the roughly 800 habitats of internationally recognized important migratory birds, including cranes and ducks, in the network by 2005, the officials said.

Japan and Australia are calling on 16 countries, including China, South Korea and Indonesia, to join hands in creating the network, they said.

A preservation plan will be compiled for the habitats, including tidelands and wetlands, they said, adding that information on migratory patterns and the number of birds will be exchanged.

Workshops led by researchers on migratory birds are also being planned, according to the officials.

Although there is the Ramsar Convention, an international framework to preserve migratory birds, it involves complex procedures to register wetlands under the convention, the officials said.

“Our aim is to realistically protect the habitats with less restrictions, and through the efforts of volunteers,” a Japanese official said.

The agreement will be incorporated into a document on partnership initiatives to be announced during the three-day top leaders’ meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development through Sept. 4.

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