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HALF of the world’s birds are in decline: 1 in 8 species are going ‘faster’ to extinction

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Nearly half of the world’s bird species have declining populations and at least one in eight are in danger of extinction, a new report reveals.

The 100-year-old conservation organization BirdLife says this year’s report, which summarizes data from researchers, conservationists and citizen scientists, paints the most troubling picture for wildlife yet.

Forty-nine percent of the world’s bird species are now in decline, and only six percent have increased their populations since the last report in 2018.

One in eight species, or 1,409 in total, are in danger of extinction. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America alone since 1970.

Nearly half of the world’s bird species have declining populations, at least one in eight face extinction, new report reveals

The main threats to birds are the growth of unsustainable agriculture, logging, invasive species, over-exploitation and climate change

The main threats to birds are the growth of unsustainable agriculture, logging, invasive species, over-exploitation and climate change

“We’ve lost more than 160 bird species in the past 500 years and the rate of extinction is accelerating,” said Lucy Haskell, a research associate at BirdLife and lead author of State of the World’s Birds. report.

“Historically, most extinctions have been on islands, but worryingly there is a growing wave of continental extinctions caused by landscape-scale habitat loss.”

“The condition of the world’s birds continues to deteriorate: species are becoming extinct at an accelerated rate,” said the report released this week.

Most bird populations face a combination of human-induced threats.

One in eight species, or 1,409 in total, are in danger of extinction.  It is estimated that nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America alone since 1970

One in eight species, or 1,409 in total, are in danger of extinction. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion birds have been lost in North America alone since 1970

“We have lost more than 160 bird species in the past 500 years and the rate of extinction is accelerating,” said Lucy Haskell, Science Officer for BirdLife and lead author of the State of the World’s Birds report.

Forty-nine percent of the world's bird species are now in decline, and only six percent have increased their populations since the last report in 2018

Forty-nine percent of the world’s bird species are now in decline, and only six percent have increased their populations since the last report in 2018

The main threats are the growth of unsustainable agriculture, logging, invasive species, overexploitation and climate change.

Agriculture is the biggest threat to birds — affecting at least 73 percent of endangered species — with its expansion into bird habitats and the increased use of chemicals and machinery as it grows.

Logging is another major threat. The report states that more than 7 million hectares of forest are lost every year, an area larger than the Republic of Ireland, affecting nearly half of the world’s endangered bird species.

Researchers note that climate change is already negatively affecting birds by causing more intense storms, wildfires and droughts in areas that birds call home.

An estimated 97 percent of bird species in the US could be affected by two or more climate-related threats by 2100 if global temperatures rise by 3 degrees Celsius.

Finally, factors such as bycatch from fisheries and overexploitation and invasive species are also reducing the population.

Agriculture is the biggest threat to birds - affecting at least 73 percent of endangered species - with its expansion into bird habitats and increased use of chemicals and machinery as it grows

Agriculture is the biggest threat to birds – affecting at least 73 percent of endangered species – with its expansion into bird habitats and increased use of chemicals and machinery as it grows

Logging is another major threat.  According to the report, more than 7 million hectares of forest are lost every year, an area larger than the Republic of Ireland, affecting nearly half of the world's endangered bird species.

Logging is another major threat. According to the report, more than 7 million hectares of forest are lost every year, an area larger than the Republic of Ireland, affecting nearly half of the world’s endangered bird species.

Bycatch occurs when seabirds catch bait or discarded fish and snag or become entangled in fishing gear or collide with trawler cables, often resulting in drowning

‘Nature is in trouble. Human actions are rapidly driving species to extinction, undermining ecosystem functions and services that are essential to our own survival,” the report said.

“Birds tell us about the health of our natural environment – ​​we ignore their messages at our peril,” said Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife.

“Many parts of the world are already experiencing extreme wildfires, droughts, heat waves and floods, while human-transformed ecosystems struggle to adapt to climate change,” the report said.

“While the COVID pandemic and the global cost of living crisis have undoubtedly diverted attention from the environmental agenda, global society must remain focused on the biodiversity crisis.”

Despite the serious warnings in the report, there is cause for optimism. The ongoing conservation efforts are bearing fruit. BirdLife notes that 726 endangered bird species worldwide have directly benefited from the work of the BirdLife Partnership.

Moreover, since 1993, between 21 and 32 bird species would have gone extinct without the conservation efforts to save them.

“Many parts of the world are already experiencing extreme wildfires, droughts, heat waves and floods, while human-transformed ecosystems struggle to adapt to climate change,” the report said.

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