It is estimated that between 1980 and 2017, the total population decline will be 17 to 19 percent, meaning the disappearance of between 560 and 620 million birds. The decline is actually around 900 million, offset by the increasing incidence of some species at 340 million. Much of the decline is explained by the drastic decline of some common bird species, based on data from the European Bird Census Council’s Pan-European Monitoring Program (PECBMS) and country reports required by all Member States under the EU Birds Directive.
The herd of the once common sparrow has halved to 247 million birds in this single species since 1980. Its close relative, the field sparrow, has been reduced by 30 million. In both cases, the intensification of agriculture is the main trigger, although there are fewer and fewer sparrows to be seen in the settlements. The exact causes are not known, presumably the effects of declining food intake, avian malaria and air pollution also play a role. Based on a comparison of habitats, the birds of grassland and agricultural land suffered the greatest losses as a result of the less environmentally friendly agricultural practices generated by the financial support system. Due to climate change, the population of the phytyspy, the yellow wagtail, has also declined, as has that of shorebirds such as the tern. The change was largely characteristic of the 1980s and 1990s and has been slower in the last decade.
The results of the study just published support previous research showing a significant recent decline in biodiversity. However, due to the declining number of common and widespread birds, further, more extensive conservation efforts are needed, with a particular focus on birds living in agricultural areas as well as migratory birds throughout their migratory routes and wintering grounds. It is important to emphasize that the loss of widespread, large species is a cause for concern, as it points to serious problems in ecosystems, which also have a fundamental impact on humanity through ecosystem services, according to a statement by the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Association.
Fiona Burns, senior conservation researcher at RSPB and lead author of the study, said: “Next year, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity will meet to discuss the future of global biodiversity, creating a framework that requires increased conservation efforts to prevent and control extinction. to recover stocks.
Our study warns of the very real danger of extinction and quiet spring.
We consider it necessary to ensure a strong system of measures that puts the conservation of biodiversity at the forefront of any global plan. We need to reshape society’s attitudes to tackle the natural and climate crisis together. This means increasing nature-friendly farming, protecting wildlife, sustainable forest management and sustainable fishing, and rapidly expanding the network of protected areas. ”
Anna Staneva, head of conservation at BirdLife Europe, said: “This report clearly shows that nature is sounding the alarm. While the protection of some rare or endangered birds has been successful in some cases, this does not appear to be sufficient to maintain populations of common species. Ordinary birds are becoming rarer, largely due to human-induced habitat loss. Nature has been pushed back into our farmlands, seas and cities. Governments across Europe need to set legally binding targets for nature restoration, otherwise the consequences will be severe, including for humanity. ”
Alena Klvanova, project manager at PECBMS and head of the Monitoring and Research Department at the Czech Ornithological Society, emphasized: “This study highlights the importance of long-term, volunteer-based programs that have been running across the continent for decades. Such an invaluable database is due only to the coordinators of national monitoring systems and the unbroken efforts of thousands of volunteer surveyors who count birds in a uniform way in almost thirty European countries during each breeding season. The results could help the public and responsible politicians realize that common birds may not remain common forever if we do not take conservation measures. ”
In the European Union, the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive provide legal protection for priority species and habitats, which also benefits birds. As an example, the population of seven species of birds of prey has increased in the recent period due to increased protection, reduced use of pesticides and persecution, and targeted conservation measures. Without the introduction of directives, the situation of these species would probably be much worse.
Based on the data of the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Association (MME), out of the 211 bird species that regularly nest in Hungary, 72 do not show a trend of population change (due to their rarity or hidden lifestyle), 40 species are stable or fluctuating, 59 species are growing, 40 species decreasing. However, behind the seemingly favorable situation, there are also unfavorable processes in Hungary. Some species of growing populations (such as bustards, ospreys) have been severely depleted in the past and, although conservation populations are currently increasing, they are still below their size a few decades ago. Certain species will be more common when migrating to human settlements (black thrush, red dove). The decline affects almost all birds living in agricultural environments (captive, quail, woodpecker, yellow wagtail, etc.), but most bird species that prefer wetlands (such as terns, red-footed booby) and reed warblers, . Further information on the situation of each bird species can also be found on the website of the recently published book Atlas of Birds in Hungary.
Based on the resolution of the MME, further efforts must be made in Hungary in order to preserve our special natural environment, among other things, by continuing the nature conservation programs that have already begun, and by stopping and reversing the harmful processes associated with habitat loss.
Nyitókép: Nataba / Getty Images