Fifth of birds at risk of ex­tinc­tion in EU

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

A NEW as­sess­ment of Euro­pean birds has re­vealed that nearly one fifth (18 per cent) are con­sid­ered to be at risk of ex­tinc­tion across the Euro­pean Union with habi­tat loss, cli­mate change and in­creas­ingly in­ten­sive farm­ing be­ing key causes of threat.

This list of threat­ened species in­cludes 37 birds, in­clud­ing lap­wing, puf­fin and curlew, which oc­cur regularly in the UK.

The Euro­pean Red List of Birds as­sesses birds across two ge­o­graph­i­cal lev­els: the Euro­pean Union (ex­cept Croa­tia); and the wider con­ti­nent of Europe (stretch­ing from Green­land east­wards across Europe to Tur­key and Euro­pean Rus­sia).

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor.

Com­ment­ing on the pub­li­ca­tion of the new Euro­pean bird assess­ments, he said: “These red list assess­ments pro­vide another red warn­ing that na­ture across Europe is in trou­ble. It would have been un­think­able 20 years ago that birds like lap­wing and curlew would be threat­ened species in Europe – the sta­tus of many species is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing across Europe. How­ever, con­ser­va­tion ac­tion across Europe, guided by the Birds Di­rec­tive is help­ing species like the stone-curlew, Dal­ma­tian pel­i­can, av­o­cet and crane.”

l Birds in the UK: Of 246 regularly-oc­cur­ring birds in the UK, 37 species have been as­sessed as at risk of ex­tinc­tion in the Euro­pean Union. The Balearic shear­wa­ter, a reg­u­lar seabird visi­tor from the Mediter­ranean to UK shores, is listed as crit­i­cally en­dan­gered: the high­est cat­e­gory of threat.

Other species such as the black-tailed god­wit, eider, Arc­tic skua and kit­ti­wake are listed as en­dan­gered: the sec­ond high­est cat­e­gory of threat.

l Birds in the Euro­pean Union (EU27): 18 per cent of the 451 species as­sessed across the EU27 are threat­ened. Of the 82 species: 11 are crit­i­cally en­dan­gered; 16 en­dan­gered and 55 vul­ner­a­ble.

l Birds across the wider con­ti­nent of Europe: 67 (13pc) of the 533 species as­sessed are threat­ened across the wider con­ti­nent of Europe. Ten species are crit­i­cally en­dan­gered (the high­est threat level) in­clud­ing so­cia­ble lap­wing, yel­low-breasted bunt­ing, and slen­der­billed curlew. The study also found that 18 species are en­dan­gered and an ad­di­tional 39 vul­ner­a­ble.

l Still in trou­ble: The con­ser­va­tion sta­tus of some species that were iden­ti­fied as be­ing in trou­ble a decade ago haven’t im­proved. This list in­cludes: Egyp­tian vul­ture, aquatic war­bler, greater spot­ted ea­gle and lit­tle bustard.

l Im­prov­ing: a to­tal of 20 species were pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered re­gion­ally threat­ened and are now clas­si­fied as least con­cern in Europe. These in­clude some charis­matic species, such as Dal­ma­tian pel­i­can, fer­rug­i­nous duck, stone-curlew, black kite, lesser kestrel, black­throated diver and great bustard.

Another 25 species are still threat­ened in Europe, but now have a lower ex­tinc­tion risk than a decade ago, and have seen their threat level down­listed. For ex­am­ple, Zino’s Pe­trel and Azores Bullfinch, both pre­vi­ously con­sid­ered to be crit­i­cally en­dan­gered, are now clas­si­fied as en­dan­gered.

Christina Ieronymi­dou, the Euro­pean species pro­gramme of­fi­cer at BirdLife, said: “The Euro­pean Red List tells us that we have done a de­cent job at res­cu­ing the rarest species by pro­tect­ing their last strongholds and tak­ing ac­tions such as erad­i­ca­tion of in­va­sive species and in­su­la­tion of killer pow­er­lines.

“But we are now faced with much big­ger chal­lenges, from the eco­log­i­cal degra­da­tion of our farm­land to cli­mate change. These prob­lems re­quire a much broader and deeper re­sponse.”

It is not all bad news though, and as Michael Caine might say, not many peo­ple know this but, the afore­men­tioned crane now breeds in Eng­land and Scot­land, and is seen across the UK on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Af­ter a hia­tus of sev­eral hun­dred years, a few birds found their way to Nor­folk and set­tled in. In re­cent years their num­ber has grown thanks to in­tro­duced birds from Ger­many. As re­cently as Sun­day, Cranes were seen in York­shire, Not­ting­hamshire and Stafford­shire.

Cranes are now regularly seen across the UK

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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