Herons comprise a distinctive family of birds, the Ardeidae, adapted to living in aquatic environments. The history of herons in human culture dates back at least 4,000 years, continuing through successive cultures. Through the millennia, hunting herons for sport, food, or feathers has been one of the more enduring conservation issues for the group. Killing egrets for their feathers initiated the modern conservation era in the United States and Europe. Overall, protection of nesting sites and feeding habitats has been, and remains, a significant theme in heron conservation. Owing to their longevity, wetland dependence, and site specificity, herons have been proposed as potential indicators of environmental conditions and trends. It has been recognized that landscape and regional conservation action is the most effective conservation tool for most species, but several species and populations have been identified as being at risk and requiring special species- and population-level planning and action. To facilitate the conservation of herons, HeronConservation, the Heron Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was founded in 1982 and has since led global engagement in heron conservation through communication, networking, technical syntheses, and action planning and facilitation.
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Vol. 41 • No. 4