The latest State of the World’s Birds report, released every four years by BirdLife International, has revealed that one in eight bird species is threatened with extinction, and the status of the world’s birds continues to deteriorate. For those not yet considered threatened, the majority are in decline and have much-depleted populations.
BirdLife began documenting the status of birds and the threats to them exactly 100 years ago. Birds are excellent barometers for planetary health as they are widely distributed, relatively easy to survey, and responsive to environmental change. However, their numbers are greatly threatened.
Approximately 600 million individual birds are estimated to have been lost in the EU since 1980, while 2.9 billion have been lost in North America since 1970. The pressures causing these figures are largely driven by human actions.
The principal threats include agricultural expansion and intensification, unsustainable logging, invasive alien species, overexploitation and climate change.
Additional threats include bycatch from fisheries, expanding residential and commercial development, the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, and poorly planned energy production.
There can be a brighter future
The report stated that the most urgent actions needed to reverse these losses and to help nature to recover is the conservation and effective management of the global network of IBAs (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas).
Conservation by Indigenous Peoples or local communities, either within or outside protected areas, is important for many sites. Beyond IBAs, it is essential to retain remaining intact habitats and restore degraded ecosystems.
- EU auditors: Intensive farming a main cause of biodiversity loss in Europe
- Around one third of Belgian breeding birds endangered across Europe
Key threats to the world’s birds require mitigation, including preventing overexploitation and illegal killing of birds, managing invasive alien species, tackling fisheries bycatch, and minimising the negative impacts of energy infrastructure.
Many threatened species also require targeted recovery actions such as captive breeding and release, translocation, supplementary feeding and other species-specific interventions.