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State of the World's Birds 2022 Report: Nearly half of all Bird Species in Decline with One in Eight Threatened with Extinction


NEARLY HALF OF ALL BIRD SPECIES IN DECLINE WITH ONE IN EIGHT THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION

The latest State of the World’s Birds report paints the most concerning picture yet of the future of avian species and, by extension, all life on Earth. Nearly half of all bird species were found to be in decline, with many populations severely depleted. One in eight bird species is currently threatened with extinction1.

Published every four years by BirdLife International, the report summarises what birds tell us about the state of nature, the pressures upon it, the solutions in place and those needed. 2 The report concludes that one of the most important actions required is to effectively conserve, safeguard and manage the most critical sites for birds and biodiversity.

Currently, almost half of bird species worldwide are in decline, with just 6% increasing. While data on long-term trends in bird populations are most comprehensive for Europe and North America, there is increasing evidence that declines are occurring around the globe – from forest and wetland species in Japan to raptors in Kenya3.

In addition to showing the dramatic declines of bird populations globally, the State of the World’s Birds 2022 report also details what is driving these losses:

  • Agricultural expansion and intensification is the single biggest threat to the world’s birds, affecting 73% of all threatened species.
  • The degradation of wetlands from reclamation, pollution and rising sea levels has left around half of East Asia’s migratory waterbirds in decline.
  • The wild bird trade in Southeast Asia for pets, singing competitions and food has led to estimates that there are more songbirds in captivity on Java (66-84 million) than in the wild.
  • In India, the single greatest cause for mortality of the Critically Endangered Great Indian Bustard is collisions with powerlines with an annual mortality rate of 16% of the population.
  • Unsustainable logging and forest management are also significant issues, with the loss of over 7 million hectares of forest each year impacting half of all threatened bird species.
  • Climate change is also a considerable threat, and is already showing devastating impacts on the world’s birds. 34% of threatened species are already impacted and our changing climate is projected to rapidly become even more of an issue.

The Convention on Biological Diversity meeting (CBD COP 15) taking place later this year will be a crucial moment for birds and all nature, as governments convene to finalise and adopt the Global Biodiversity Framework.

“Birds tell us about the health of our natural environment – we ignore their messages at our peril.  Many parts of the world are already experiencing extreme wildfires, droughts, heatwaves and floods, as human-transformed ecosystems struggle to adapt to climate change. While the COVID pandemic and global cost of living crisis have undoubtedly diverted attention from the environmental agenda, global society must remain focused on the biodiversity crisis.” – Patricia Zurita, CEO of BirdLife International

State of the World’s Birds 2022 also shows the solutions needed to address the biodiversity crisis, many of which are being put in place across the world. Safeguarding and protecting important sites for nature, restoring damaged ecosystems, and tackling key threats to birds and biodiversity are all critical.

One of the most urgent actions is to effectively conserve, safeguard and manage the most critical sites for birds and biodiversity – Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), over 13,600 of which have been identified by BirdLife International. IBAs form the core of a wider network of Key Biodiversity Areas and are increasingly being used to target the designation of protected areas. They will be particularly important for ensuring that efforts to expand protected areas to cover 30% of land and seas are targeted to the most important locations.

Despite the desperate state of the natural world, birds provide us with reasons for hope. They show that with effective action, species can be saved and nature can recover. Since 2013, 726 globally threatened bird species have directly benefitted from actions of the BirdLife Partnership and over 450 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been designated as protected areas through the advocacy efforts of BirdLife Partners.4

BirdLife Partners in Asia have also contributed to the protection of bird species through these actions:  

  • In Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, partners have worked with local communities to prevent poaching and create safe havens for the Critically Endangered Helmeted Hornbills.
  • With support from the Asian Development Bank, BirdLife launched AVISTEP, a spatial mapping tool for renewable energy projects to prevent bird and biodiversity losses in India, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Haribon Foundation (BirdLife partner in the Philippines) have engaged Indigenous Peoples and local communities in community-based forest protection to help inform policy and conservation actions.
  • In response to the mass trapping of Amur Falcons, The Bombay Natural History Society launched a campaign in several villages, which has succeeded in eliminating reports of trapping since 2013.
  • Through policy actions and protected areas, the catastrophic declines of four species of Asian vultures have been halted and are starting to reverse.
“Birds show that we are in an extinction crisis, with at least 187 species confirmed or suspected to have gone extinct since 1500. There is no denying that the situation is dire, but we know how to reverse these declines. Our research shows that between 21 and 32 bird species would have gone extinct since 1993 without the conservation efforts undertaken to save them. Species like the Echo Parakeet, California Condor, Northern Bald Ibis and Black Stilt would no longer exist outside museums were it not for the dedicated efforts of the many organisations in the BirdLife Partnership and beyond. If we give nature a chance, it can recover.” – Dr Stuart Butchart, Chief Scientist at BirdLife International

Nature Society (Singapore) is the proud country partner of BirdLife International.

Read the full State of the World's Birds report here.

Watch the State of the World's Birds video here.


Written by: Ariana Loehr, BirdLife International

Footnotes:

1 The latest global IUCN Red List assessments for birds show that 1,409 species are considered threatened: 755 are listed as Vulnerable, 423 as Endangered and 231 as Critically Endangered. This equates to 12.8% of all extant bird species, or just over one in eight.

2 State of the World’s Birds is based on analyses of BirdLife's assessments of the extinction risk of over 11,000 bird species, its data on over 13,600 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, an extensive review of the scientific literature published since the last report in 2018, and information from the 119 national nature conservation organisations around the world that form the BirdLife International Partnership.

3 In Japan, forest species have declined by 94% and wetland species by 88% since 1850 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35611536/). In Kenya, raptor species declined by a median of 70% between 1970 and 2020 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320721004134).

4 Recent examples include the designation of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea-basin (NACES) as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in October 2021. Covering an area the size of France it supports up to five million seabirds of 21 different species. This is the first MPA in the High Seas identified based on tracking data. Mar Chiquita lagoon, an IBA in Argentina home to more than half a million migratory waterbirds including Andean Flamingo (Vulnerable), received protection as Ansenuza National Park in 2022 after extensive work by Aves Argentinas (BirdLife Partner).

Funding:

The production of State of the World’s Birds 2022 was generously supported by the Aage V Jensen Charity Foundation.

Selected websites:

BirdLife International is a strategic global partnership of conservation organisations in over 115 countries, working to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, and to promote sustainability in the use of natural resources.

We are driven by our belief that local people, working for nature in their own places but connected nationally and internationally through our global partnership, are the key to sustaining all life on this planet. This unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

Find out more: www.birdlife.org

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