The results, released today, bring together the most comprehensive biodiversity indicators of their kind in
The data, collected from 20 national breeding bird surveys spanning
“Birds can be vital barometers of environmental change – their declines are clear evidence of the environmental degradation that has occurred across European farmland,” said Dr Richard Gregory, Chairman of the European Bird Census Council, and Head of Monitoring and Indicators at the RSPB. “The data are staring us in the face: many farmland birds – and the species and habitats with which they co-exist – are under serious threat.”
Species like Skylark, Red-backed Shrike, Corn Bunting, Northern Lapwing and Tree Sparrow are familiar names in the long list of declining farmland bird species.
The organisations involved in the study are calling for a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a system of European Union subsidies and programmes that has led to considerable agricultural intensification in EU Member States. Although this drive has lessened with successive reforms, the CAP still appears to fail farmland birds and the European environment in general.
Most concerning is the likelihood of rapid farmland bird declines in new EU Member States that hold some of Europe’s largest concentrations of farmland birds. The study indicates that declines in farmland birds in new EU Member States mirror those declines of more established EU Member States. The fear is that EU accession may accelerate and worsen the situation.
Findings from the study also show declines for forest birds: across
Forest bird declines have been particularly severe in the boreal forests of northern