Climate Change study predicts hazy future for Europe's birds
On January 15th, BirdLife International welcomed the publication of 'A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds'. This atlas is a landmark advance in our understanding of the potential impacts of human-induced climate change on wildlife.
The study based on the use of "climate envelope modelling', predicts that without vigorous and immediate action against climate change, the potential future distribution of the average European bird species will shift by nearly 550 km north-east by the end of this century and will reduce in size by a fifth and overlap the current range by only 40 per cent. Alarmingly, the atlas shows that three quarters of all Europe's nesting birds species are likely to suffer declines in range. Arctic and sub-Arctic birds and some Iberian species are projected to suffer the greatest potential range loss. Projected changes for some species found only in Europe, or with only small populations elsewhere, suggest that climate change could set some on a path to extinction.
The atlas has been written by Professors Brian Huntley, of Durham University, and Rhys Green, of the RSPB and the University of Cambridge, and Drs Yvonne Collingham and Steve Willis, both of Durham University.
Professor Rhys Green, an RSPB scientist and one of the authors said: "Climatic change and wildlife's responses to it are difficult to forecast with any precision, but this study helps us to appreciate the magnitude and scope of possible impacts and to identify species at most risk and those in need of urgent help and protection."
Professor Brian Huntley, of Durham University, said: "Although the details both of future climatic changes and of species' responses to these changes remain uncertain, the potential magnitude of both is clear, and is such that the adaptation measures necessary to conserve European biodiversity can only be achieved through urgent international action."
The Climatic Atlas proves once more the importance of the Natura 2000 network and the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directive across the EU. —Dr. Clairie Papazoglou, Head of the European Division of BirdLife International
The Climatic Atlas not only shows maps of the potential distribution of each species breeding in Europe at the end of this century, it also provides ways of responding to this challenge. Most of all we need to protect and restore today's wildlife, and secure healthy populations of birds within their current ranges. Central to this will be the strenghtening of Natura 2000, the European network of protected areas. The sites must be better protected, managed and connected to provide a "backbone for biodiversity" and to accommodate the expected changes in distribution. At the same time, the landscape outside these areas must become more 'permeable' to species movements by providing stepping stones of high quality habitat and through more sustainable land-use policies.
Dr. Clairie Papazoglou, Head of the European Division of BirdLife International concluded: "The Climatic Atlas proves once more the importance of the Natura 2000 network and the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directive across the EU. This is a precondition for helping our wildlife against the impacts of climate change and for supporting Europe's ecosystems on which we depend ourselves if we want to come through the climate crisis."
- 'A Climatic Atlas of European breeding birds' has been published as a partnership between Durham University, the RSPB and Lynx in association with the University of Cambridge, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council (EBCC). The book can be ordered through the following website: https://www.hbw.com/lynx/en/books-on-birds/paleartico/ALT0007-climatic-atlas-european-breeding-birds.html
- Media contact: Herlinde Herpoel, Communication Officer BirdLife International, email@example.com, tel. +32 (0)2 494 542 844
- Click here for a summary brochure of the Climatic Atlas (BirdLife/RSPB).
Next Page » BirdLife's work on EU Policy