Half World’s Bird Species in Decline

Heron in North Yorkshire
Heron in North Yorkshire

Nearly half the Earth’s bird species are in decline, reports the Guardian. The exact figure is 49%, compared with 40% in 2018. 12% of species are threatened with extinction.

The source of the information is the State of the World’s Birds report, produced every 4 years by BirdLife International. The report is a summary of other studies.

The expansion and intensification of agriculture is the biggest cause. Other pressures on birds include:

  • logging
  • invasive species
  • exploitation of natural resources
  • climate breakdown

Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods will lead to widespread extinctions if they continue.

In Ethiopia there has been an 80% decrease in Liben larks since 2007, caused by conversion of grassland to farmland.

In North America, 29% of birds (2.9 billion) have been lost since 1970.

In Europe, 19% of birds (600 million) have disappeared since 1980. Farmland birds in Europe have suffered a 57% drop in numbers due to mechanisation, chemical use and conversion of land to crops.

‘We have to stop these declines and start getting on track for recovery. Our future, as well as the world’s birds, depends on it. If we continue to unravel the fabric of life, we’re going to continue to place our own future at threat.’

Dr Stuart Butchart, Chief Scientist at BirdLife International

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