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Agricultural expansion is a major threat to birds, and appears to be increasing in importance

Sugar cane fields encroaching on Brazil's Atlantic coastal forest, © L C Marigo

In 2004, agricultural expansion constituted a higher proportion of all threats (57%) impacting Near Threatened bird species than it did for species in higher categories on the IUCN Red List, implying that pressures associated with agriculture are set to become increasingly important in the future.


Proportion of different types of threats affecting bird species in different IUCN Red List Categories

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2004)

The conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land is currently the most important threat to globally threatened birds. In 2004, agricultural expansion constituted a higher proportion of all threats impacting Near Threatened species than it did for species in higher categories on the IUCN Red List (see figure). Hunting and alien invasive species were the most frequent threats (61% of threats) for Extinct birds whereas for Near Threatened birds, habitat loss through agricultural expansion was the most frequently listed threatening process (57% of threats; analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database 2004). If the same threatening processes identified in recent assessments have been operating over a long period of time, this indicates that pressures associated with agriculture are set to become increasingly important in the future.



Related Case Studies in other sections

Acknowledgements

Figures and text kindly provided by Jörn Scharlemann, Rhys Green (both Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Conservation Biology Group, University of Cambridge, UK) and Andrew Balmford (Conservation Biology Group, University of Cambridge, UK).

Compiled 2004

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2004) Agricultural expansion is a major threat to birds, and appears to be increasing in importance. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/130. Checked: 25/07/2014