In news– The State of the World’s Birds, an annual review of environmental resources was published in the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, a peer-reviewed journal recently.
Key findings of the report-
- The study, which involved scientists from Manchester Metropolitan, Cornell University, Birdlife International, the University of Johannesburg, Pontifical Xavierian University, and the India-based Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), reviewed changes in avian biodiversity using data from the IUCN’s Red List to reveal the changes in fortunes of all the global bird species.
- The report has found that populations of almost half of all bird species are declining globally because of human influenced factors such as loss or degradation of habitats, changes in land use, overexploitation, and climate change.
- Around 48% of bird species worldwide are known or suspected to be undergoing population declines.
- This is in contrast to trends in 39% of species where numbers are stable, and 6% showing increasing population trends.
- Avian diversity peaks globally in the tropics, and it is there that they also find the highest richness of threatened species
- World is now witnessing the first signs of a new wave of extinctions of continentally distributed bird species, which has followed the historic loss of species on islands like the Dodo.
- The Indian report refers to the 2020 State of India’s Birds report that complied and analysed data from over 15,500 birdwatchers and was curated by 140 volunteer editors.
- It had found that endemic species, birds of prey, and those dwelling in forests and grasslands were the most threatened.
- Although there are no confirmed recent continental extinctions in Asia, numerous threatened species have not been seen in recent years. For example, the critically endangered Jerdon’s Courser, endemic to the Eastern Ghats in India, has not been seen since 2009.
- Detailed information on population changes in common birds was still patchy, with the best data coming from North America and Europe.
- Around 57% of North American species are recording declining trends (303 out of 529 species), a net loss of almost 3 billion birds since 1970.
- In North America, long-distance migratory species have been badly affected.
- The situation is similar in the European Union, where trends across 378 species indicate an overall decrease in breeding bird abundance of 17-19% between 1980 and 2017, which translates into a net loss of 560-620 million individuals.
- The paper flagged the threat of hunting and trapping in different parts of the world, including northeast India.
- It also said that for some species, like the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard, power transmission lines represent the most significant threat.
- As many as 1,481 species (13.5% of 10,994 recognized species) are currently threatened with global extinction, according to BirdLife International’s latest assessment of all birds.
- More threatened bird species (86.4%) are found in tropical than in temperate latitudes, with hot spots for threatened species concentrated in the tropical Andes, southeast Brazil, eastern Himalayas, eastern Madagascar, and southeast Asian islands.
The paper recommended conducting reliable estimates of population abundance and change; novel and more effective solutions applied at scale for demand reduction for over harvested wild birds; monitoring green energy transitions that can impact birds if inappropriately implemented; eradication of populations of invasive alien species, and shifting human societies to economically sustainable development pathways, among others, to deal with bird diversity loss. The study underlines birdwatching, a global pastime involving millions of people, as a form of avian conservation but warns of “local negative impacts” of bird feeding valued at $5-6 billion per year and growing by 4% annually.