Nearly 40% of Flanders nesting birds are endangered species
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    Nearly 40% of Flanders nesting birds are endangered species

    © Belga
    A very high proportion of nesting birds are endangered species.
    © Belga

    A study of some 160 Flanders nesting bird species, highlighted that 38% of them are “seriously endangered”, “endangered” or indeed “vulnerable”. This was stated today by Natuurpunt and the Flemish Research Institute for Nature and Forests (known as the INBO).

    The populations of birds in coastal and agricultural areas have fared the worst in the north of the country.

    “In Flanders, six species previously present have meanwhile been adjudged to be extinct,” illustrate Koen Devos (from the INBO) and Gerald Driessens (of Natuurpunt).

    They go on, “This means that these birds have not nested here for at least 10 years.”

    Chronologically, the last species of bird to be considered as extinct in the north of the country was the Northern Strike, last seen nesting in Flanders in the year 2000.

    Moreover numerous other species have become so rare in Flanders during the last decade that they are on the edge of extinction in Flanders. “There thus only remain a handful of nesting couples being Kentish plovers, the Eurasian wryneck, the Crested lark, the Whinchat and the Northern wheatear.”

    The populations of coastal birds (shorebird species) and those of agricultural lands are the most under threat, especially those linked to wet meadows or those whose numbers are managed, say researchers.

    For birds from wooded areas, the general picture is a little more positive. Some species have fared better, such as woodlarks, the European stonechat or the large-tailed nightjar.

    To reverse the general negative trend, scientists are advocating specific protection programmes based upon the bird species.

    The latest so-called “red list” of threatened bird species in Flanders was compiled on the basis of a study of 161 nesting birds.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times