Herons are large, popular and, in many cases, spectacular birds found in wetlands world-wide, both tropical and temperate, natural and man-mode. Some populations are very small and localised, some have decreased, some have expanded their ranges, and a few are pests of human activities.
In the fifteen years since the publication of the latest monographic treatment of the family, The Herons Handbook, there has been a tremendous increase in our knowledge of heron status and conservation requirements, set against a backdrop of increasing concern about the future of the World's wetland habitats. Most herons depend on wetlands, which must be conserved if herons are to persist. As a result, the local status of heron populations often reflects the success or failure of conservation action in wetlands and so serve as indicators of the state of wetlands.
This book provides a comprehensive update following two distinct threads. The status and conservation needs of herons first presented on a regional basis, in a series of chapters set at a continental or subcontinental scale. Over 200 biologists and heron conservartionists - many associated with the Heron Specialist Group sponsored by Wetlands International and IUCN - have contributed to the data summarised here, and these very latest census and survey results provide the most up-to-date and detailed picture of heron populations currently available. Few, if any, widespread bird groups have been subject to such an exhaustive evaluation of their status and conservation needs at national, continental and world-wide scales.
Chapters discussing several critical issues in heron conservation follow, tending to focus on the international nature of the problem. Many heron populations ore migratory and depend upon conservation of both summer and wintering wetland habitats often located on different continents. Effective conservation of these wetlands of international importance depends in large part on local and regional socio-economic factors. Herons, to the extent that they require maintenance of wetland functioning, should be on integral part of sustainable wetland conservation. There is a bigger message here: it is that species and their habitats share a common future Herons are not only a fascinating group in their own right, but also an object lesson in this universal truth.