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Vanishing wildlife: half of world’s birds in trouble, decline in Ireland worse

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NEARLY half of all bird species are in trouble and more than one in eight are heading towards extinction.

The situation is even worse in Ireland where 63pc of bird populations are dropping, 25pc of them in serious decline.

Scientists and conservationists are now pleading for action to safeguard what remains of the world’s birdlife.

They say hundreds of millions of birds are lost every year to habitat destruction and loss of food sources, harmful agricultural policies, hunting and invasive species, and as by-catch in the fishing industry.

Other deadly threats they face include pollution, wildfires, climate change, rising sea levels and energy infrastructure that poses a collision risk.

Yet the world is crtically dependent on birds for dispersing seed through their droppings, eating insects and small animals that are agricultural pests and cultivating soils through their foraging in earth and leaf matter.

The findings are in the latest State of the World’s Birds report compiled by BirdLife International which has been documenting species and populations since 1922.

Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland which is a BirdLife affiliate said the report should raisealarm over what is happening at international and national level.

She said it made it all the more disappointing that more funding was not made available for wildlife conservation in Tuesday’s budget.

“Budget 2023 failed to acknowledge or financially address the biodiversity emergency that the Dáil declared in 2019 and which has been highlighted with vigour by organisations like BirdWatch Ireland,” she said.

“This indicates that the message of the stark loss of biodiversity is not getting through to the whole of government.

“This is deeply worrying as some bird species may go extinct in the next five to ten years and habitats may be unrecoverable and that will bring terrible shame to this first world European country.”

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Among the birds of most concern in Ireland are farmland species such as curlew, lapwing, snipe, kestrel and skylark.

Across Europe, 57pc of farmland species are in serious decline.

The BirdLife report cites examples globally where conservation programmes have resulted in populations of some endangered species.

Ms Duggan said there were examples in Ireland too, but not enough.

“There are success stories such as the Roseate Tern conservation work on Rockabill.

“What is missing is national ambition across the whole of government to protect and restore biodiversity and to fund conservation to the extent that is needed.”


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