Editorial: News from the BirdLife Partnership, September 2007
Welcome to this month’s BirdLife Editorial: an opportunity for us to summarise events and stories coming from BirdLife International - the world’s largest alliance of conservation organisations.
Books are powerful things, even more so if their contents contain the ingredients to put together a framework from which the conservation of all biodiversity stems. So it was rightly celebrated when both BSPB (BirdLife in Bulgaria) and SOR (Romania) this month launched brand new Important Bird Area (IBA) directories. (Bulgaria and Romania enrich EU through Important Bird Areas, 18 September 2007).
BirdLife’s Important Bird Areas are key sites for the conservation of birds and biodiversity; they are building blocks for conservation planning. Incredibly these newly designated IBAs from Bulgaria and Romania will add to a global IBA network numbering 8,000 strong, all mapped and documented in 178 countries and territories by BirdLife.
This month saw another good news IBA story: Brazil’s Atlantic Forest receives international support (11 October 2007). This exciting new project being undertaken by SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil) –focusing on one of South Americas most threatened IBAs- was thanks in part to efforts from the other side of the planet by BirdLife’s Asia Division – one of the many benefits of a global Partnership.
IBAs too are global, and are linked by the unifying criteria on which their designation depends. IBAs may be breeding sites, important foraging areas or crucial stopover points for birds on migration, a point underlined nicely this month (Godwit continues to rack up air-miles, 17 September).
After IBAs are designated, IBA protection is the crucial next step and BirdLife Partners continue to be committed to this. Over 60% of Africa's IBAs are wholly or partly included in official Protected Areas, and there is a similar statistic in Europe – the importance of which the European Commission, with long-term campaigning by BirdLife, looks to have finally convinced Poland on, for now. (Polish government backs down over road construction, 10 September).
Sadly, news from Europe this month wasn’t all good. The EU’s decision to annul set-aside for 2008 –a rushed decision “likely to do real and immediate harm on the ground before the issue is thoroughly evaluated,”- was greeted with deep regret from BirdLife’s European Division. (Don't set aside set-aside, 14 September).
"...rewards spread through to other species, their habitats and the 'ecosystem services' these habitats provide."Important Bird Areas are often crucial for saving species -like Chinese Crested Tern- whose survival hangs on a knife edge, where breeding is concentrated into a few scattered sites (Alarm-call” for China’s rarest bird, 21 September). Fewer than 50 individual birds now remain – a truly shocking statistic that we hope can be reversed by specific actions undertaken through our Preventing Extinctions Programme. Of course recruiting BirdLife Species Champions is critical to the funding of this work (and news of latest companies and individuals who have generously stepped forward will follow in the near future…).
This support could also benefit another Critically Endangered bird, Chatham Albatross – twelve of which were found to have been drowned by a single longlining vessel in Chatham Rise. (Urgent call to action follows New Zealand albatross deaths, 20 September).
As has been said in previous monthly round-ups: effort and investment in conservation pays off – Example #1: More birds than ever face extinction – but success stories highlight way forward, (12 September) Example #2: With Birdfair's help, Rimatara Lorikeets return to the Cook Islands (27 September). And the rewards spread through to other species, their habitats and the ‘ecosystem services’ these habitats provide.
So here’s to more success as the next generation come through: Calling Future Conservationists (24 September). Over the years the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has funded many projects from teams of young people, quite a number of which have contributed to IBAs and their future management.
Best of luck to entrants…
Jules Howard, BirdLife News Editor