From: Anna Mudeva, Reuters
Published November 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Nearly Half of European Bird Species at Risk, Says Report

AMSTERDAM - More than 40 percent of all bird species in Europe face an uncertain future and some are so threatened that they may disappear soon due to intensive agriculture and climate change, scientists said on Monday.

Many bird species, including the house sparrow, starling, wood warbler and corn bunting, have been declining alarmingly, BirdLife International said in a report.

"The number of bird species in trouble across Europe is rising," said BirdLife, a British-based conservation group.

The report identifies 226 species, or 43 percent of all European bird types, as being threatened. Many of them are declining, while other populations have failed to recover from large declines seen in the 1970s and 1980s.

A number of bird species could disappear in the very near future if immediate action is not taken, warned the report "Birds in Europe," due to be presented at a European conference on biodiversity in the Netherlands later on Monday.


The birds which face extinction include the sociable lapwing, a wader which breeds only in south-west Russia and Kazakhstan, the Mediterranean shearwater, a seabird from the Balearic Islands, and the Azores Bullfinch that lives only on one small island in the Atlantic, BirdLife says.

"The fact that more birds in Europe face an uncertain future compared with a decade ago in deeply worrying," said Clairie Papazoglou, head of BirdLife's European Community Office.

"Birds are excellent environmental indicators and the continued decline of many species sends a clear signal about the health of Europe's wildlife and the poor state of our environment," Papazoglou said.

More intensive agriculture, construction projects and climate warming pose the biggest threats to birds, according to the report which assesses population sizes and trends for all of Europe's wild birds from 52 countries or territories.

However, it is not all bad news.

Some of the most endangered European species, such as the Audouin's gull, the Eurasian griffon and the white-tailed eagle, have shown a marked recovery as a result of better protection.

The report attributed the improvement partly to European Union conservation initiatives under the Bird Directive, whose 25th anniversary is to be marked at Monday's conference in the southern Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom.

The EU has pledged to stop the decline of wildlife in Europe by 2010, but BirdLife said a huge amount of work has still to be done to achieve that.

Source: Reuters

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