30 Sep 2020

New report: birds provide hopeful message on targets to save nature

You may have heard about the world’s catastrophic failure to meet global biodiversity targets. But there's hope. A new landmark report from BirdLife International uses bird conservation successes to outline recommended solutions that could help the next set of targets to succeed.

Black-browed Albatross © Jessica Winter
Black-browed Albatross © Jessica Winter
By Jessica Law

Today, BirdLife released a new report, Birds and Biodiversity Targets, which builds on the recent coverage of the world’s catastrophic failure to meet global targets to save biodiversity. While there is plenty of doom and gloom around this subject, there have also been numerous successes over the past decade that demonstrate how achievable – and affordable – nature conservation can be with sufficient political investment.

Birds and Biodiversity Targets, part of our flagship State of the World’s Birds series, uses our extensive global research to provide a road map to ensure the 2020s are not just another “lost decade for nature”. As well as outlining the shortfalls of each of the targets, this publication also brings a message of hope to the world, using bird conservation successes to show that solutions exist for the problems facing the biosphere, and that nature can recover swiftly when these are enacted.

The report aims to dispel the idea that the governments failed because the targets were unachievable, outlining the actions needed to plot a course where, by 2050, nature and humanity can live in harmony.


Key successes over the past decade include:

Some of the most critical sites for conservation of birds – Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas –have been formally recognised as protected areas, with their average coverage increasing from 43% to 46% since 2010.

Conservation has prevented up to 48 extinctions and slowed the rate at which species are moving towards extinction by 40% over recent decades.

Measures to prevent accidental ‘bycatch’ of seabirds in fisheries have virtually eliminated albatross deaths in the South African hake trawl fishery.

Community efforts to tackle the hunting of birds have been spectacularly successful in some locations, for example ending the capture of >100,000 Amur Falcons each year in Nagaland, India.

Based on insights from our work, our recommendations include:

The new targets should be more ambitious, for example conserving all Key Biodiversity Areas, halting human-induced extinctions and recovering native species abundance to 1970s levels by 2050.

The new targets need a clear, communicable, overarching aim – comparable to the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Targets need to be SMART - specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time-bound – and each target should be broken down into clear steps outlining how it can be met.

Climate change targets should promote nature-based solutions (e.g. forests as carbon sinks) which support both nature and people.

Targets on health and wellbeing should focus on access to blue and green spaces.


Read the full report here.