Promoting birds as indicators of biodiversity in view of the target of halting EU biodiversity decline by 2010
In 2001, the Gothenburg European Summit agreed on the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. Within this Strategy, one of the objectives is “Protect and restore habitats and natural systems and halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010”. There are various tools to achieve this objective, like the EC Biodiversity Strategy and the 6th Environment Action Programme (although they both pre-date the adoption of the objective), and the EC Birds and Habitats Directives. However, how will we know if we achieved this all-important objective? To properly measure the success or otherwise of the actions taken in order to halt biodiversity loss a set of biodiversity indicators is needed. Given that the Sustainable Development Strategy presents the environment as one of the three pillars of the EU development agenda, alongside the economic and social pillars, biodiversity indicators should be up alongside the well-known economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product or unemployment rate. In fact, various formations of the European Council called for the development of a biodiversity indicator to be included among the EU’s Structural Indicators, to be included in the EU’s annual Synthesis Report discussed by the EU Heads of State at the annual Spring Summits.
BirdLife International is the global authority on the status of birds world-wide. In recent years, we have developed a strategic approach to monitoring the status of birds, sites and habitats and to developing a set of biodiversity indicators based on bird data:
- A Common Bird Indicator based on data on trends of common bird species, collected through the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme
- A Red List Index based on data on Globally Threatened Species
- An indicator showing change in the status of species of European conservation concern
- Indicators on the completeness and status of the network of Special Protection Areas, based on data on Important Bird Areas.
We believe that the Common Bird Indicator satisfies all the requirements of a headline Structural Indicator and should therefore be listed as such and reported against regularly in the EU’s annual Synthesis Report. This indicator was in fact adopted on the long list of structural indicators by the European Commission in its 2004 Communication, but it remains to be seen if it will be accepted as one of the short-listed, headline indicators.
Publications and Links
- BirdLife position paper on indicators (PDF, 156 KB)
- Briefing on the Common Bird Index (PDF, 246 KB)
- CSO Website on PECBMS etc.
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