14 Aug 2014

Birdfair big weekend helping to protect our oceans

This year's Birdfair will help BirdLife's work identifying, designating and protecting marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (Ben Lascelles)
By Martin Fowlie

This year’s British Birdwatching Fair, the world’s largest event for nature, is raising funds to help BirdLife International to protect the world’s seas and oceans.

The oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface yet conservation action for the marine environment lags far behind effort on land. Globally, only 2.8% of the oceans have any form of legal protection, compared with 12.9% of the world’s land surface.

Threats from oil pollution, fisheries, offshore renewable energy, plastics, ocean acidification and climate change mean that many marine species, including sharks, turtles, whales and seabirds are globally threatened. Urgent action is needed by governments and others to minimise the impacts of these threats if the extinction of marine species is to be avoided and healthy marine ecosystems maintained.

“The world's seabirds are more threatened than any other group of birds. BirdLife has been engaged in mapping marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas around coasts, in territorial waters and on the high seas”,

said Ben Lascelles, BirdLife’s Senior Marine Officer.

“The funds from the this year’s fair will be used to help BirdLife advance the designation of new Marine Protected Areas, ensuring that they cover critical at-sea habitats for seabirds and other migratory marine species.  These areas will not only conserve seabirds, but will also help protect marine mammals and fish stocks.”

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This work will be vital if nations around the world are to stand any chance of meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity’s target of protecting 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020.
These sites will protect critical breeding and feeding areas, migratory stop-off points and key sites used during non-breeding periods.  The protection of an adequate network of sites across species ranges and throughout the year will reduce the impact of many threats faced by seabirds, which will ultimately help improve their conservation status. 

"What started as an idea over a pint of beer between two friends, has evolved into something on a scale none of us could have imagined”,

22,000 people came to Birdfair last yearsaid Martin Davies, Birdfair's co-organiser. “The fair continues to grow and attract more people and exhibitors, with 350 companies and organisations in 2013 and 22,000 visitors."

"It goes to show that people really care about nature both here in the UK and also abroad and by working together we can all make a difference for conservation.”

This year’s Birdfair, running from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th August, is the 26th to be held at the Egleton Nature Reserve and the fair’s co-organisers are expecting this year’s event to be the biggest yet. The Fair has a long history of funding global conservation projects. Since its launch in 1989, the fair has raised well over £3 million and has funded a range of conservation projects from albatrosses in the southern Ocean to the rainforests of Ecuador and Indonesia.

See how Birdfair has helped conservation grow for over 25 years through supporting BirdLife:

For more information see: www.birdfair.org.uk