Last week two big reports were published by conservation groups Rewilding Europe and BirdLife International.

The State of World Bird’s 2022 report sadly warns that nearly half of the world’s bird species are in decline and more than one in eight are at risk of extinction. BirdLife has been studying and documenting birds for 100 years. This is the fifth edition of the report, and it is a really important document, not just for birds but for biodiversity and the planet. The report explains:

“It focuses on birds because they are an excellent barometer for planetary health. Being widely distributed, relatively easy to survey, and responsive to environmental change, birds are useful biodiversity indicators, revealing wider trends in natural ecosystems.”

As we have seen as a familiar theme with a lot of our recent blogs, we know the reasons behind this decline with many factors caused by human actions. But we are doing very little to stop it and are at a crucial point where action needs to be taken. 

The second report by Zoological Society of London, the European Bird Census Council and BirdLife International, commissioned by Rewilding Europe, is more positive but carries the same message of the hard work that is still to be done.  The Wildlife Comeback in Europe report evidences that many wildlife species are thriving in Europe thanks to protection and reintroduction.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Positive trends in abundance and distribution are largely continuing in the focal species like the Eurasian beaver, European Bison, Osprey and Eurasian Elk
  • Evidence of recent stabilisation or decline in some species
  • The presence of conservation measures for certain species equalled a more positive rate of recovery than species facing pressures on the population
  • More monitoring is required to combat gaps in data
  • Climate change is having both a negative and positive effect on differing species. Some species have been able to expand their range due to climate change finding more favourable conditions, while others face very uncertain futures
  • Wildlife species that have been able to comeback from very depleted levels can have a big impact on ecosystem functions and processes
  • Strong legal and policy frameworks are needed to promote wildlife coexistence and manage the increase in some species, especially carnivores
  • Changes in regional and global policy offer opportunities to improve ecosystem health

The report is really interesting in showing which species are recovering well and why showing the effect that conservation projects and practices can have for species recovery.

Both reports further highlight the importance of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework which desperately requires the commitment of funding and support from countries ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit in December.