30 Apr 2020

5 vital projects that will continue in 2020

By Jessica Law

The good thing about BirdLife is that, as a truly global organisation, we’re already great at staying connected, even when we’re thousands of miles apart. Here are just a few of the ways our work will carry on over the coming months, even if it’s from our living rooms…


1. Our children's programme

© HeidelbergCement

With schools closed and kids bored indoors, a lot of parents are looking for guilt-free, educational activities to keep their little ones occupied. But they need not fear – our children’s programme Spring Alive is on the case. Spring Alive spans across Europe and Africa, striving to inspire children with the wonders of bird migration through workshops, events and classroom activities. Most of this season’s events have been cancelled, so instead, our Partners have been sharing their favourite at-home activities on social media and with each other. From instructions on how to build your own nest box to the hilarious “Beak Game”, Spring Alive has ideas for all ages and abilities. Check out the Spring Alive Facebook page or search for #SpringAlive on social media to find out more.


2. Investigating the illegal bird trade


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We know that illegal and unsustainable trade is a threat to numerous bird species in Southeast Asia. BirdLife already supports and coordinates work by several Asian Partners to protect the Helmeted Hornbill, Asian songbirds and parrots threatened by the pet trade. But what about the rest of the world? It’s clear there are excessively traded species worldwide – from songbirds eaten as delicacies in Europe, to vulture body parts traded for belief-based use in Africa. However, without more detail, we cannot focus our action effectively. That’s why this year, we’re launching an in-depth global review of the bird trade, researching the main sources, markets and trade routes, and highlighting the most urgent priorities. To obtain this information, we are working closely not only with Birdlife Partners, but also NGOs Fauna & Flora International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and TRAFFIC through the Restore Species Partnership.


3. Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Cuban Tody © Sergey Uryadnikov

Since 1979, BirdLife has mapping the world’s most vital bird habitats in the form of Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). Since they were formed, landscapes may have been degraded or restored. Some bird species may have declined or disappeared, or new ones arrived. The species themselves may have moved to a different threat category on the Red List. All this affects how important it is to protect a given IBA, or whether it still qualifies at all. Our national Partners are responsible for updating the IBA data for their country. This year, we’ll be leading a major drive to gather the very latest information on all sites across the globe. We will also be applying the new Key Biodiversity Area standard, in a bid to help map, monitor and conserve not only the most important places for birds, but for all life on earth.


4. Finding finance to sustain forests

Gola Rainorest cocoa programme © R Anstead / Twin

This year, we’ll continue to explore new, creative approaches to ensure forest conservation gets the long-lasting funding it desperately needs, rather than moving precariously from project to project. Inspired by methods used by start-up companies in the tech sector, our Forest Landscape Sustainability Accelerator, part of Trillion Trees, helps our Partners to explore long-term sources of funding across some of the world’s most species-rich tropical forests – ranging from forest-friendly cocoa to carbon schemes. The “Accelerator” matches projects with investors and enables staff from conservation organisations to develop big ideas in a supportive environment. This year, face-to-face workshops and an important ‘pitch event’ were planned; the workshops will still occur digitally, and the team are exploring online fundraising opportunities.


5. The Red List update

Araripe Manakin (Critically Endangered) © Ciro Albano

Every year, BirdLife’s Red List team analyses the latest scientific literature and specialist information to review the extinction risk of hundreds of bird species for the IUCN Red List. Every four years, they take it even further, undertaking the mammoth task of reviewing the status of all the world’s c. 2,500 threatened and Near Threatened species, to check they are correctly classified and update their factsheets with the latest knowledge. 2020 is such a year, and this time the team will also incorporate improved estimates of generation length for many bird species, based on a newly published study co-authored by BirdLife scientists. Although the team’s research is desk-based, the information it uncovers goes much further, helping NGOs, scientists and governments make major decisions on where to focus limited resources.