Number of farmland birds in Europe has halved since 1980

FARMLAND BIRD populations both in Ireland and across Europe have fallen to their lowest levels since records began in 1980 with overall numbers of farmland species down by 48 per cent. The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme compiled population figures for 145 common and widespread bird species in 25 European countries between 1980 and 2009. Amongst those species covered, farmland birds were the most threatened group, with 20 out of 36 species in decline, and overall numbers at an all-time low since 1980, BirdWatch Ireland said yesterday. Some of the species that have declined the most over the last three decades across Europe include familiar farmland birds like Grey Partridge Perdix perdix (–82 per cent), Skylark Alauda arvensis (–46 per cent), Linnet Carduelis cannabina (–62 per cent) and Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra (–66 per cent).

Ian Burfield, European science and data manager for BirdLife Europe, described the figures as “shocking” as they confirmed farmland birds have halved in number across Europe since 1980.

“While the rate of decline may have slowed in recent years, it’s clear that attempts to halt the loss have been insufficient, and that massive efforts are needed to reverse the trend,” he said.

Conservationists from across Europe are calling for urgent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to allow for farmers to be rewarded and encouraged to put conservation measures in place in the upcoming revision of the policy.

Source: The Irish Times - Thursday, September 1, 2011