HBW 17 - Foreword by BirdLife International: 90 years and growing: how BirdLife went from a council of experts to everybody’s global partnership.

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The world’s largest civil society Partnership for nature

BirdLife International is a global Partnership of national civil society conservation organisations that work together across national boundaries, to address the increasingly globalised issues that affect biodiversity, especially birds, and the ecosystems that all life, including human life, depends on. Since 1993, when it evolved out of the International Council for Bird Preservation, BirdLife has grown into an impressive coalition of 117 Partners worldwide. Many other organisations, nurtured and sometimes founded by BirdLife, are working to meet the criteria to join the Partnership.

From large countries like the USA and Brazil to small and remote Pacific island states, the BirdLife Partnership can count on 2·7 million active members, 10 million supporters, 7000 staff, 2000-plus Local Conservation Groups and 250,000 volunteers around the world. Each Partner is an independent not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO), and each maintains its individual national identity within the global Partnership. Many are well-known and highly respected organisations in their own right.

There are four distinct characteristics that set the BirdLife Partnership apart from all other international conservation organisations:

•  “Local to Global” structure with coordinated on-the-ground action. Partners represent the concerns of the citizens of their country. This enhances the credibility and legitimacy of each Partner when working with the private and public sectors and international organisations. While Partners act locally, they are also united by the shared BirdLife vision, strategies, and programmes, and high performance standards they have jointly developed as part of the Partnership. These are coordinated by the Global Secretariat which allows the Partnership to speak with one voice and influence international policies and agreements. Through this unique “local to global” structure and approach, BirdLife ensures that the international programmes are informed by on-the-ground experience and that local action is supported by international advocacy efforts. This not only results in high conservation impact but crucially also in long-term sustainability.

•  Science-driven policy and action. Because of its scientific rigour, innovative methodologies, and the depth and breadth of its data resources, BirdLife is the acknowledged authority on the world’s birds and bird conservation. Continuous on-the-ground observation by thousands of BirdLife Partner staff, supporters, members and volunteers, both professionals and “citizen scientists”, guarantees the most accurate and up-to-the-minute information about the condition of birds and nature even in remote parts of the globe.

•  Work with local communities. The Partnership strongly believes that working with local communities and local empowerment are the foundations of lasting, high-impact nature conservation achievements. This includes the recognition that conservation has to enhance human well-being tangibly in order to be fully embraced by local people. Projects parachuted in from abroad, often short-term in nature, are unlikely to produce any lasting impact, and run the risk of undermining relationships with local people. BirdLife Partners are very well positioned to engage with local communities in their countries.

•  Very cost-effective conservation action. One major conservation organisation that knows the Partnership well calls BirdLife “the best bang for buck in the conservation world”. This efficiency is a result of the cost-effectiveness of the Partners as well as the Partnership’s coordinated efforts and the sharing of best practices and experience.

These four distinct characteristics are combined with the Partners’ passion for the future of nature and humankind. The Partners have an acute sense of the urgency of action needed to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the planet. They work as one toward sustainable solutions that have local as well as universal benefits.

Why birds?

Birds are excellent indicator species for the problems facing biodiversity and ecosystems. By focusing on the conservation of birds, BirdLife is helping find solutions to the great global environmental issues which threaten the future of our planet.

Birds enjoy an especially close relationship with humankind, pervading our day-to-day lives and language, art and culture, and providing us with food and services such as pest control, seed dispersal and pollination. Unlike many other types of wildlife, birds are conspicuous and widespread, and offer a universally accessible way to monitor the state of the environment. Birds depend on healthy ecosystems to survive, and where birds thrive, so do other organisms. Where they are endangered, so is the quality of life of every living thing.

1. Early Days

“There are more than 9000 species of birds. Today, over 1000 of these are threatened with extinction; another 5000 are declining...”

“ICBP, as the principal organisation concerned with the birds of the world, establishes the status of every species. It is through painstaking research, frequently using ICBP’s vast network of professional ornithologists and committed amateurs around the world, that the status of each species can be classified...”

“The response must be based upon hard-headed research providing us with the ability to understand the problems clearly, and then deliver viable solutions...”

“For ICBP the key to success is creating links between organisations and people that transcend political boundaries. ICBP brings people together in collaboration and partnership, to take action wherever the need is greatest. This also necessitates the bringing together of developed and developing countries to work in cooperation and to transfer resources to where they are urgently required. ICBP plays a vital role in facilitating closer links between those who can provide those resources and those who need them most.”

From the foreword to Volume 1 of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (1992), written by Christoph Imboden, Director-General of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP)

Much has changed in the 20 years since the words above were written. More than 10,000 bird species are now recognised, and the number regarded as threatened has also increased, to 1313, with a further 880 considered Near Threatened. But much of what is said about the essential qualities of ICBP, including the emphasis on hard science and on links that transcend political boundaries, could equally well be applied to the BirdLife Partnership today.

On 3 March 1993, BirdLife International replaced the International Council for Bird Preservation, building on the network and achievements of its precursor. The March issue of BirdLife’s magazine World Birdwatch explained: “One of the reasons for modifying the structure of ICBP was the realisation that we need to develop a higher public profile through a closer association with like-minded national bodies that are willing and capable of promoting joint international policies, programmes and campaigns.” The name BirdLife International is “sayable by all tongues”, and “among dozens of conservation organisations known by an acronym, it is distinctive and memorable... and combines our concerns for birds and for life in general, and underlines the rationale of using birds as entry points for addressing wider environmental issues”.

But BirdLife’s mission was “not different from what we have been doing before: namely to work for the conservation of the world’s biological diversity and the sustainability of human use of natural resources by focusing on a life-form group which, throughout the history of conservation, has shown itself to be of special importance in recognising and addressing problems affecting our living environment”.

The world’s oldest truly international conservation organisation

“The internationalisation of conservation activities in the form of organisations is essentially a post-World War I development. The first international initiatives were taken in North America during the first decade of the twentieth century, and in 1910 other attempts were made in Europe; but it was not before 1922 that the first truly international conservation organisation, the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP), was created.” – Professor Kai Curry-Lindahl, Background and Development of International Conservation Organisations and Their Role in the Future, 1978.

The International Committee for Bird Preservation (ICBP) was founded in 1922, and within three years had representative organisations from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia. The name was changed to the International Council for Bird Preservation in 1959.

ICBP had a very different structure to the BirdLife Partnership. Where in BirdLife every country is represented by one national partner, ICBP had “national sections” of up to 12 organisations or institutions, each represented by two delegates. A national section might include a number of national or state/provincial societies for the study or conservation of birds, societies devoted to wildlife and natural history in general, national trusts and societies for the promotion of protected areas, observatories, museums, universities and zoos, government agencies and research bureaux, and hunting, game management, wildfowling and falconry associations. From the outset, it was decided that ICBP would never intervene directly in any country, but that approaches would be made via the national sections.

The outline of this structure was decided at the founding meeting of ICBP, at the house of the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer in London, on 20 June 1922. The meeting was convened by the co-founder and President of the National Association of Audubon Societies, T. Gilbert Pearson, a man of extraordinary energy and vision.

The first Bulletin of ICBP (1925) described the event: “Upon invitation of Dr T. Gilbert Pearson those whose names here follow met... for the purpose of discussing the advisability of forming an International Committee for the Protection of Wild Birds. There were present the Viscount Grey of Fallodon, The Earl Buxton, Frank E. Lemon [Hon Sec of RSPB], Dr Percy Lowe, William L. Sclater, H. J. Massingham, all of England; P. G. Van Tienhoven and Dr A. Burdet of Holland; Jean Delacour of France [President of LPO], and Dr T. Gilbert Pearson.” All were eminent in their fields; the affiliations given here are those organisations which later became BirdLife Partners.

The account continued: “After free discussion... it was the unanimous opinion that the creation of an international committee for bird protection would be a wise course to pursue.”

Those present formed a provisional committee, with Dr Pearson as Chairman. Representatives for Britain, France and the Netherlands were appointed. They were asked to gain endorsement for an International Committee from the organisations of which they were unofficial representatives, and to submit names of other organisations in their countries which could be invited to “unite with” it.

After this meeting, a declaration of principles was adopted, which began: “The ICBP has been founded to cultivate throughout the world an adequate appreciation of the value of living birds to mankind, and of the need for their effective protection.”

The statement continued, “We believe that in organising a world-wide Committee we can be of much aid to each other in our several countries by the interchange of literature bearing on bird study and bird protection”; and in words very similar to those BirdLife still uses 90 years later, “by united action we should be able to accomplish more than organisations working individually in combating dangers to bird-life”.

In 1925, three years after it was founded, ICBP already included 18 national sections, formed from six member societies in France, six in the USA, four each in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary and Australia, eight each from the UK, Germany and Canada, two each from Japan and Sweden, five from Norway and from Czechoslovakia, and one each from Luxembourg, Austria, South Africa and New Zealand.

In 1930, ICBP had 23 national sections made up of 203 member organisations. By 1950, it had risen to 45 sections, and at its dissolution in 1993, ICBP had 63 sections with more than 360 member organisations, spanning 110 countries, with the backing of around 10 million individual members.

ICBP first met under the auspices of an international congress for the protection of natural sites in Paris in 1923, and passed resolutions calling for the protection of small insect-eating birds, and an end to the traffic in the feathers of wild birds for the millinery trade. Outrage at the trade in bird plumes had led to the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK, the Audubon Societies in many US states, and Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in the Netherlands). The slaughter of birds to provide materials for fashion remained a major concern for ICBP well into the 1950s.

In 1925, ICBP met in Luxembourg, at the International Congress for the Study and Protection of Birds, where they called on the nations of the world to study the status of their bird life, and “take necessary steps to maintain at all times an adequate supply of native wild birds”. The Congress discussed the inadequacies of the European Treaty for Bird Protection, known as the Paris Treaty of 1902, and asked ICBP to secure the ideas of representative people in different countries and “render an opinion as to what course should be taken”. (But it was not until 1950 that the draft of a new international convention for the protection of birds, prepared by an ICBP sub-committee, was signed by government representatives.)

In May 1928, ICBP held its first formal conference, in Geneva, Switzerland. Resolutions were passed for “unofficial action” on the creation of bird sanctuaries, and against the collection of large numbers of eggs of rare species (“generally objectionable, and unworthy of a good naturalist”). To take into account the diverse legislation and customs in different countries, the Committee felt the best chance of securing international agreement would be to confine its recommendations for official action to two definite proposals. One called for a “closed season” on shooting and trapping of birds on their spring migration and while breeding, and the other for an international convention on oil pollution, “which should take into consideration the great loss of birds from this cause”.

Oil pollution was to remain a major preoccupation in the decades that followed. (Sometimes a frustrating one: at the eighth conference in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1950, the President pointed out that oil pollution had been discussed at every meeting, “and each time a resolution was passed but no progress had been made”.) ICBP’s ceaseless lobbying finally bore fruit in 1954, with the International Convention on Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil. The tireless Phyllis Barclay-Smith (see below) not only reported progress on cleaning up the sea in each ICBP bulletin, but was also the prime mover and Hon. Secretary of the UK government’s Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea.

Another concern was the mass destruction of birds of prey: not only were these birds not protected, but many national and state governments offered bounties which resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of hawks and owls every year. ICBP national sections set out to lobby their governments, and raise awareness of the importance of raptors in the “balance of nature”, and as rodent controllers. Slowly, protection was introduced across Europe, though particularly in some Mediterranean countries it was (and in a few cases still is) not enforced.

At the sixth meeting in 1935, Phyllis Barclay-Smith of the RSPB was appointed as the London-based sub-Secretary to the Secretariat. Miss Barclay-Smith left the RSPB in 1935 to become Secretary of the British Section. In 1946, she replaced Count Leon Lippens as Secretary of ICBP, and in 1974 became its Secretary-General.

T. Gilbert Pearson left the post of President in 1938. He was replaced by another of the founding committee, Jean Delacour, who held the post until 1958, and as President Emeritus continued to attend ICBP World Conferences until shortly before his death in 1985.

The fifth Bulletin, of 1939­—to be the last for twelve years—announced the formation of a Continental Section (in Europe) and a Pan-American Section of ICBP (chaired by T. Gilbert Pearson). It also reported a success that could be traced directly to the activities of ICBP: a British law banning the import of live quail between February and July, bringing to an end the massive trade in quails from Egypt to the London markets. On the initiative of ICBP’s British section, the British government was assisting the Egyptian government in its efforts to safeguard the quail.

In 1948, the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN) was founded by UNESCO, with ICBP among the founder organisations. (The name was changed to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, in 1956.) At an IUPN meeting in 1949, lists of birds and mammals in danger of extinction were drawn up. There were 13 bird species and subspecies on this first list. At the IUPN’s third general assembly in 1952, responsibility for compiling data on the world’s threatened birds was given to ICBP. The first Red Data Books, on birds and mammals, were published in 1966 (see below).

From the first years of ICBP, various attempts were made to address the problems of monitoring migratory populations of ducks, geese and swans. The British Section set up the International Wildfowl Inquiry in 1937, and in 1954 this became the International Waterfowl Research Bureau. The IWRB’s oldest project, the International Wildfowl Census, grew to include coordinated counts in more than 100 countries. IWRB became an independent organisation, although it remained closely linked to ICBP. In 1995, it was one of the three organisations brought together to form a new dedicated NGO, Wetlands International.

From the 1960s onwards (and most dramatically with the purchase of Cousin ­Island in Seychelles by the British section in 1968, see below), ICBP expanded its role from research into the status and conservation requirements of birds, to involvement in conservation action. Much of this work was supported by the World Wildlife Fund (now Worldwide Fund for Nature), which had been set up in 1961 to provide grants to conservation organisations and projects. The relationship between IUCN, WWF and ICBP was close; ICBP played an important role in founding WWF, and for a while there was a proposal to move ICBP’s Secretariat from its cramped headquarters in the British Museum (Natural History) in London to share a headquarters with the other two organisations in Gland, Switzerland.

When in 1978 Phyllis Barclay-Smith retired as Secretary-General, the membership of ICBP took the decision to employ a full time director. Until then, ICBP posts had been voluntary and unpaid. On his appointment in 1980, the Swiss conservation biologist Dr Christoph Imboden began to appoint a professional staff (the Secretariat) whose role would be to develop strategies, programmes and policies for ICBP. One of the first five employees was Dr Nigel Collar, HBW’s Consultant for Status and Conservation, who joined as Red Book compiler. Also in 1980, the Secretariat moved to Cambridge to share the newly-established headquarters of the IUCN’s Species Conservation Monitoring Unit.

ICBP did not appoint its first Treasurer until 1978, but with professionalisation came an increase in income requirements. In 1980, WWF provided 53% of the operating budget, but this was intended to be reduced steadily and replaced by direct financial support from national sections and member organisations (who provided just 8% of income in 1981; Imboden described this as “very modest support”). Other funds were provided by the Dillon Ripley fund (set up in honour of S. Dillon Ripley, ICBP’s third and longest serving President, 1958–1982), and, following her death in 1980, the Phyllis Barclay-Smith Memorial Appeal.

ICBP’s first annual conservation programme in 1981 reflected the conservation priorities identified by the working groups and national sections. The 34 projects included compiling an African Red Data Book, an inventory of islands important for seabirds, and a directory of Important Bird Areas in Europe; restoring habitat for Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina); protecting habitat for threatened species in the Seychelles; captive breeding and reintroduction schemes for Pink Pigeon (Nesoe­nas mayeri) on Mauritius, Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) in Bahrain, and Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi); training local conservationists in Mauritius; and strengthening the bird conservation movements in Africa and Asia. In 1982, the number of projects rose to 83, not including the many hundreds of conservation actions being carried out by member organisations. By 1985, ICBP had carried out or was still involved in over 200 projects in 42 countries.

In his editorial in the Winter 1985 World Birdwatch (WBW), however, Cristoph Imboden lamented that ICBP was too often seen as a distant organisation, sometimes seeming a little bit too bureaucratic: “What is still rarely understood is that ICBP should not be seen by its members as ‘them’, but as us.” He called for greater participation and sharing of responsibilities, particularly in the light of ICBP’s four-year conservation plan (1986–1990). “To put it simply”, he wrote, “ICBP will be able to do what its members want and enable it to do”. A feature article in the same issue of WBW also pointed to the need for greater involvement by members and the wider public, if ICBP was to continue to be able to assert that it had never knowingly turned its back while a bird species became extinct.

In September 1990, ICBP’s Director General used his platform in WBW again to describe the “many distinct weaknesses” (alongside the many strengths) of ICBP, particularly its “rather cumbersome superstructure” as an “international federation of national federations”. He added “we have no sharp global image. We lack the ability to pursue international campaigns (through strong local agents) and to promote unified policies”. He took the opportunity to open discussion of a new direction for ICBP, as “a network of strong allied national organisations representing ICBP in each area and portraying a cohesive global image”.

A new strategy for the organisation and operation of ICBP was adopted at the World Conference in 1990. By 1992, single “lead organisations” were taking over the mandate from the national sections in 15 European countries. By the time BirdLife International was launched in March 1993, 20 organisations had signed up as national Partners (as the lead organisations had been renamed).

The editorial in WBW March 1993, which bore the BirdLife tern logo on its cover for the first time, announced that the new structure would enable the national organisations to participate more directly than ever before, bringing a diversity of experience, skills and supporters to create “a world class Partnership for conservation”.

The first World Conference of the BirdLife Partnership took place in Rosenheim, Germany, organised by the German Partner NABU. By 1997—75 years from the meeting that launched ICBP—there were already 60 national BirdLife Partner organisations. The Important Bird Area programme was being rolled out throughout the world, and BirdLife (led by SEO/BirdLife in Spain) had won a test case in the European court that all European IBAs should be recognised as Special Protection Areas, the bedrock of the European Union’s Natura 2000 protected area system. The planet’s centres of endemism (Endemic Bird Areas) had been identified, and the second regional Red Data Book Threatened Birds of the Americas had been published. The BirdLife Partnership was active and influential in many international conventions, including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the CITES convention on the regulation of trade in wildlife. Individual Partners and the Secretariat were helping many governments to prepare their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

BirdLife International had built upon the authority and achievements of ICBP to become an effective force for conservation on the world stage. In 2009, Dr Marco Lambertini took over as CEO of BirdLife from Dr Michael Rands, who in turn had replaced Christoph Imboden in 1996. Dr Lambertini is thus only the third person to head the organisation in the more than 30 years since ICBP was professionalised in 1980, a fact that has provided continuity and stability. He is, however, as the former Director of LIPU (BirdLife in Italy), the first to have come from within the BirdLife Partnership.

2. Seychelles

In 2008, BirdLife International and Nature Seychelles (BirdLife in Seychelles) celebrated the anniversary of one the world’s great conservation success stories. In 1968, Cousin Island was purchased by ICBP’s British section, to save the last remaining population of Seychelles Brush-warbler (Warbler) (Acrocephalus sechellensis) from extinction. The warbler had been present on a number of Seychelles islands until human disturbance reduced it to a single population of 26 birds on Cousin, a tiny island of just 0·3 km².

Following the purchase, the coconut plantations on the island were cleared, and the natural Pisonia woodland encouraged to regenerate. This resulted in the population reaching a carrying capacity of 320 birds by 1982. New populations were established by moving birds to the islands of Aride, Cousine and Denis, following predator eradication and habitat management. Most recently, in January 2012, 59 Seychelles Brush-warblers were transferred from Cousin Island Special Reserve to Frégate Island, a private resort. The global population—though still confined to a total of 5 km2—now numbers 2500–3000 individuals.

Frégate was the last stronghold of Seychelles Magpie-robin (Copsychus sechellarum), whose population remained critically low at around 20 individuals into the 1990s. A recovery plan initiated by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) in 1990 was taken over in 1998 by a newly-formed national organisation, BirdLife Seychelles (now Nature Seychelles, the BirdLife Partner). Translocations to other islands followed, and by 2006, the population had increased to 178 birds. Seychelles Magpie-Robin was downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2004.

Two other Seychelles species, Seychelles Scops-owl (Otus insularis) and Seychelles Grey White-eye (Zosterops modestus), have been downlisted, and habitat management of Cousin and Cousine may have helped with the substantial rise in population of Seychelles Fody (Foudia sechellarum). Nature Seychelles has established self-sustaining and increasing populations of the Seychelles Fody on Aride and Denis, and in 2004 it was downlisted from Vulnerable to Near Threatened.

Only one Seychelles species is still listed as Critically Endangered. Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina), locally known as the Vev, was confined to western La Digue. The population increased following intensive conservation management, and 23 individuals were translocated to Denis in 2008. Following a Memorandum of Understanding between Nature Seychelles, the Seychelles National Park Authority and the District Administrator on La Digue, an advocacy and education project will engage local people and schools in activities to protect the bird. If all goes well, and both populations are still self-sustaining after five years, Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher may then be ready for downlisting.

Today, Cousin Island is managed as an integrated seascape reserve by Nature Seychelles. The successful model Nature Seychelles developed to restore and manage the island reserve has been followed by private land owners, governments and NGOs, and used to train conservationists elsewhere in the Indian Ocean. The island now receives around 10,000 visitors each year and Nature Seychelles has won several awards from the international travel industry. Nature Seychelles has implemented joint conservation plans with the owners and managers of privately-owned islands, including Cousine and Frégate.

Wildlife Clubs founded by Nature Seychelles are active at schools across the islands. They are building an environmental constituency in Seychelles, and helping ensure that the next generation of political and business leaders will also be conservationists.

3. Conservation Leadership

Soon after the first full-time staff were employed, ICBP began to develop a portfolio of projects using volunteer labour, mostly students. This early work grew into a major international initiative to develop conservation capacity worldwide, the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP). At first the focus was on students from the UK, but the CLP now concentrates almost entirely on promising young conservationists from developing countries. Many are now major players in conservation. CLP-backed teams have discovered or rediscovered over 200 species.

When ICBP became a professional body, there were limited funds for conservation work. In 1981, ICBP began to seek candidates for projects that seemed suitable for undergraduate expedition work, by visiting universities in the UK. British universities had a tradition of running zoological expeditions, with expedition members raising their own funding.

The result was a long series of projects targeting threatened species in key locations including Colombia’s Lake Tota, Kenya’s Taita Hills, Zahamena Forest in Madagascar, St Lucia’s dry forests, São Tomé & Príncipe, and Mindoro and Negros in the Philippines. Information about the status and ecology of the species and the threats they faced was needed for the Red Data Books of threatened bird species, which ICBP compiled on behalf of the IUCN.

Some of the earliest expeditions turned into flagship projects for ICBP/BirdLife, such as Kilum Ijim in Cameroon and Arabuko-Sokoke in Kenya. In 1989, a team conducted the first surveys of the birds and mammals of the dry forests of the Tumbes at a number of sites in south-west Ecuador and north-west Peru. It rediscovered Ochre-bellied Dove (Leptotila ochraceiventris) and located nine other threatened endemic birds. The threats to the dry forest were analysed, resulting in a conservation strategy for the Tumbesian region. At the time, ICBP was the only international conservation organisation to regard the Tumbesian region as a conservation priority. In 2004, the British Birdwatching Fair raised the record sum of £164,000 (US$300,000) to support BirdLife’s conservation work in Tumbes.

During the 1980s, word spread that ICBP was a source of advice and information on (and to a minor extent, financial support for) projects. ICBP published annual lists of priority projects which expeditions could select from. In 1985, ICBP founded the Conservation Expedition Award to encourage UK university students to collect data on threatened birds overseas during their summer vacations. In 1988, Fauna and Flora International joined the scheme, which was widened to encompass all life forms, and in 1990, the multinational oil company BP began funding the scheme, which was extended to applicants from all over the world. By 1998, 50% of projects were led by developing country nationals. This rose to more than 75% in 2004, and is now close to 100%.

In 2002, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society joined the initiative. In the same year, a team from Colombia’s national university in Bogotá obtained the first confirmed evidence in 90 years of the continued existence of Indigo-winged Parrot (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi). The population of this Critically Endangered parrot has subsequently increased to 160 birds thanks to conservation efforts.

In 2006, the name was changed to the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) to reflect more accurately the aim of addressing both conservation and capacity development. CLP internships were introduced, giving individuals an opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working with an international conservation organisation.

When the CLP celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010, a total of 475 projects had been supported and 450 individuals trained through international and in-country training workshops. The CLP now disburses US$500,000 annually to emerging conservationists around the world, and has a well-established Alumni Network of around 3000 individuals, many in senior positions. No fewer than 96% of trainees have entered careers which influence biodiversity conservation, and nearly 70% are practitioners working with NGOs, private companies or government, or as independent consultants. Some 85% of projects have continued beyond the CLP’s funding. More than 50 protected areas have been designated as a result of CLP projects, and 25 NGOs established.

4. From Red Data Books to Red List Indices

BirdLife International is the official IUCN Red List Authority for birds, and in this capacity, coordinates the categorisation and documentation of all bird species for the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

BirdLife’s predecessor, ICBP, helped set up the IUCN in 1948 and was given responsibility for compiling data on the world’s threatened birds in 1952. The first Red Data Book of birds was published in 1966, followed by a revised and very much expanded edition in two volumes in 1978–79.

ICBP continued to compile its Red Data Books (RDBs) during the years when this approach had fallen out of favour at IUCN, so when their importance was once again recognised, ICBP/BirdLife was able to supply the required knowledge and expertise. ICBP/BirdLife helped define the new criteria under which threatened species are classified, and most recently led the way in developing Red List Indices, which are gaining recognition as an important indicator for measuring changes in biodiversity.

Many benefits flowed from the production of Red Data Books. Most importantly, they helped in priority setting. RDBs identified the elements of biological diversity the planet is most likely to lose if no action is taken—in other words, they helped save species from extinction. They shaped public policy, becoming a major source of conservation motivation, paving the way for strong advocacy at local, national and international levels, creating networks, forging cross-cultural links, arousing public support and serving as sourcebooks and education tools, particularly in the area of university studies relating to conservation biology. Finally, they provided a baseline for the measurement of conservation progress.

For the third edition of the Birds RDB, BirdLife took a regional approach. The RDB for Africa was published in 1985, and for the Americas in 1992. The Asian volume of 2001 consisted of 3040 pages, making it the largest book ever written on birds or, apparently, on conservation.

The Africa and Americas books sought to trace every locality from which each species covered had been recorded, involving much map-based research. The Asia book went further, producing point-locality maps for every species.

The guiding principle behind these books was to provide every piece of information relevant to the species’ conservation, presenting potential researchers or managers with a complete body of evidence, and enabling them to make the soundest possible conservation decisions. It is impossible to quantify their impact on the course of conservation in their respective continents, but all three are cited repeatedly by researchers dealing with threatened species. For example, the 50 pages devoted to the complex history of endeavours to conserve the (Great) Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)resulted in a major change of direction by the key organisations attempting to save it, repositioning them as guardians of major tracts of forest on Luzon and Mindanao, with beneficial consequences for myriad other endemic life forms.

To begin with, RDB compilation was undertaken by authors dispersed around the world, operating without contact or the benefit of each other’s experience. In 1980, the IUCN rationalised the situation by establishing an RDB unit at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK. The ICBP Secretariat, newly transplanted to Cambridge, occupied a Portakabin on the same site.

Perhaps most immediately influential were the “short” RDBs that provided an overview of the global situation: Birds to watch (1988) and Birds to watch 2 (1994). These were originally conceived as stop-gap analyses to provide fast but solidly researched overviews of globally threatened birds, while the larger RDBs were in production. The demand for such material proved overwhelming, and their usefulness as reference material turned out to be extremely high.

For the years 1988–2000 these were the most frequently cited publications that ICBP/BirdLife produced, and they stimulated huge interest among young researchers with an interest in visiting islands, forests and other areas where high concentrations of threatened species occurred. As a result of these books the pages of the journals Bird Conservation International, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, Cotinga (Neotropical Bird Club), Forktail (Oriental Bird Club) and Bulletin of the African Bird Club are full of studies clarifying and updating the conservation status of threatened birds, based on fieldwork undertaken specifically to acquire such information. Examples include population and ecology evaluations on Indonesian islands such as Sumba, Flores, Sumbawa and Seram, and similar studies in Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The species listed in these publications have frequently been taken as the priorities for global and regional conservation funding bodies. Altogether a huge body of scientific evidence on globally threatened birds resulted from the Birds to watch series, leading to more focused conservation interventions.

Saving threatened species commonly requires saving particular sites. ICBP strongly advocated the need for threatened species data to be amalgamated for the greatest efficiency and economy in promoting species conservation through site conservation. Importantly, this applies not just to birds but to all biodiversity. In ICBP/BirdLife’s RDBs, other biological values attaching to a site at which a threatened bird occurred were added.

ICBP followed this logic by taking the threatened forest birds in the African RDB and considering their conservation in terms of the forests they inhabit. The result was Key forests for threatened birds in Africa (1988), a book of only 100 pages, where 76 forest sites of crucial importance for birds were profiled, including all the other biological values that could be found. This became an important sourcebook for conservation agencies in Africa, and led to many initiatives targeting the forests in question. A similar exercise was undertaken based on the Americas RDB, resulting in Key areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics (1995). Both studies served as the basis for the IBA profiles at national and regional levels.

Acutely aware from previous RDBs that most extinctions in the recent past have taken place on islands, in the early 1980s ICBP established a database to research and record the status and requirements of “single-island endemic” birds. This database was made available to agencies concerned with island development agendas, and led to some important profiling work in the Caribbean.

Between 1986 and 1992, IUCN’s RDB unit was disbanded. Fortunately ICBP continued its work, and when the new IUCN Red List categories and criteria were configured, the need for transparency and full documentation emerged as a dominant factor.

Today, although there has not been a return to the detailed Red Data Books of the 1980s, the IUCN Red List is a properly justified and documented evaluation of species at risk of extinction. That it has this depth of information and transparency is at least a partial consequence of the persistence of the RDB programme within BirdLife International.

As long-term practitioners of “Red-listing”, BirdLife staff were key members of the committee that developed IUCN’s new quantitative categories and criteria for threatened-species evaluation in the early to mid-1990s. The shape and scope of the criteria to a large extent reflected ICBP and BirdLife staff experience in classifying taxa in response to complex circumstances.

In 1994, Birds to watch 2 became the first application of the newly approved criteria, demonstrating to the world that they were usable, informative and also consistent with the old, qualitative criteria. Comparisons between Birds to watch (1988; old criteria) and Birds to watch 2 (1994; new criteria) became important evidence in the adoption of the new criteria.

BirdLife’s long experience of the Red List process led to the inclusion of the category “Near Threatened” for species which approach the thresholds for threatened status. This category has been extensively used by IUCN specialist groups and other Red List authorities.

BirdLife’s scientists were increasingly aware that although the total number of extant threatened and Near Threatened birds on the IUCN Red List had changed relatively little over the four complete assessments of all the world’s birds (from 1664 species in 1988 to 1990 species in 2004) these totals failed to reflect the large numbers of bird species which had moved between categories. Most of these category changes were a consequence of improved knowledge, but a significant proportion had moved categories because of genuine improvement or deterioration. Over the 20 years between 1988 and 2008, 225 bird species had been uplisted to a higher category of threat because of genuine changes, compared to just 32 species downlisted.

In 2004, a team of authors led by BirdLife published Measuring Global Trends in the Status of Biodiversity: Red List Indices for Birds. Red List Indices (RLIs) are based on the number of species in each Red List category, and on the number changing categories between assessments as a result of genuine improvement or deterioration. The RLI thus shows changes in the overall extinction risk of sets of species.

The RLI was developed using data on birds because of the comprehensiveness of BirdLife’s data resources. There are complete assessments for almost all the 10,000 recognised species: just 0·8% are listed as Data Deficient and hence excluded from calculation of the RLI.

The RLI has been adopted as a measure to report on the indicator “proportion of species threatened with extinction” under the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. It is used by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a measure for the indicator “change in status of threatened species”, by the Convention on Migratory Species, including the CMS Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, and by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

5. Important Bird Areas

BirdLife’s Important Bird Area (IBA) concept has been developed, refined and applied for over 30 years. Implemented by BirdLife Partners in over 100 countries, it continues to inform conservation decision-making as the only global, site-based, spatially-explicit set of information on biodiversity. The BirdLife Partnership uses IBAs in innovative ways as a basis for conservation advocacy and action, not least through its work with Local Conservation Groups

Seven major regional directories and (to date) 129 sub-regional, national or state directories have been published. When complete, the global network is likely to comprise around 15,000 IBAs covering some 10 million km2 (7% of the world’s land surface), identified on the basis of about 40% of the world’s bird species.

IBAs are discrete areas that can be delineated and, at least potentially, managed for conservation. Since biodiversity is not distributed evenly across the globe, the approach can represent a cost-effective and efficient approach to conservation, because a relatively small network can support disproportionately large numbers of species. For these reasons, sites are a major focus of conservation investment by government, donors and civil society.

In 1979, ICBP (now BirdLife International) and IWRB (now Wetlands International) proposed to the European Commission that a study be undertaken to identify areas which might be considered under the newly adopted Birds Directive, to be designated Special Protection Areas for species listed on Annex 1 of the Directive (rare globally, or rare in the European Union).

A working group was established to oversee the development of the criteria by which sites were to be selected, and to compile site-level data. In 1981, ICBP published Important Bird Areas in the European Community, which covered nine countries. ­Other studies soon followed, adding further sites in these countries, and expanding the coverage to include all 12 of the then member states of the European Union (EU).

In the early 1980s, further work with the EU Commission began to identify priority sites for the conservation of European migrant birds in Africa. This study was the first to promote the idea that IBA work beyond Europe was possible.

Collaboration between ICBP and IWRB resulted in the publication in 1989 of an IBA inventory for the whole of Europe, then comprising 32 countries. Documenting 2444 sites, Important Bird Areas in Europe was a major step towards realising a continent-wide bird-conservation strategy.

National conservation organisations in many European countries increasingly focused their site conservation activities on national IBA networks, and local volunteers were mobilised to help protect, monitor and manage “their” IBAs. With the appointment of a European IBA coordinator in 1990, and increasing numbers of national IBA coordinators, the work coalesced into a formal IBA programme for the region.

Ten years after the first Important Bird Areas in Europe was published, a second edition gave details of 3619 IBAs across 51 countries. The 50% increase in sites reflected both political changes within the region, and the stimulus provided by the first edition in prompting targeted field surveys, wider literature review and greater expert involvement, particularly in southern and eastern Europe. The intervening decade saw publication of 16 national IBA inventories, many of which substantially revised and enhanced the original study.

In 1992, IBA work was extended to cover the Middle East. The directory, published two years later, covered 391 IBAs in 14 countries. During this period the decision was taken to make the IBA programme global. When the IBA programme for Africa was launched in 1993, the methodology was refined to ensure global applicability, and the IBA recognition process was developed to maximise local and national involvement. The African IBA inventory, published in 2001, documented 1230 sites in 58 countries and territories.

The IBA directory for Asia (2004) identified 2293 sites across 28 countries. Five years later the Americas directory was published, describing 2345 sites in 57 countries and territories. The Americas volume was preceded by a volume in Spanish covering the five countries of the tropical Andes, and another on the Caribbean.

In the remaining areas of the world, IBA identification is well advanced. In Australasia and the Pacific, inventories have either now been completed or are in progress for most countries and territories.

In addition to the regional directories, an increasing number of sub-regional, national, state and other IBA inventories with more limited geographical scope have been produced. These are smaller and cheaper, and can expand upon and update information in the regional directories. They may be published in the relevant local language or languages and can thus more easily engage national and local decision-makers. As well as being of considerable national and local advocacy benefit, they are an excellent means of raising the profile of the BirdLife Partner which publishes them. By 2012, 129 publications, covering all or part of 83 countries had been produced; details of all these can be found on www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/ibainventories.

The IBA process

Originally, all raw data on IBAs were collected and stored on paper questionnaires. In 1994 development began on the IBAs module of BirdLife’s World Bird Database (WBDB). The WBDB is now the data management tool for all of BirdLife’s scientific data, and the current web-enabled version greatly facilitates access and data entry and collection.

When originally devised, the IBA criteria were intended for application only in Europe, since they had to be compatible with European Union legislation. The criteria then had to be modified for the Middle East IBA programme. Following the success of these programmes and the subsequent decision to extend the programme worldwide, it was apparent that there were numerous benefits—such as ease of understanding and usage, comparative analyses, power of justification and advocacy—to adopting a standardised approach. Considerable effort was devoted to refining and agreeing a set of simple, robust, semi-quantitative criteria of worldwide applicability.

The BirdLife Secretariat develops and maintains the list of “trigger” species and the population thresholds to be used for each IBA category, and makes sure the criteria are applied in a consistent, transparent, compatible and common-sense way. This ensures that sites selected as IBAs have true significance for the international conservation of bird populations.

Ultimately, the IBA programme draws upon information collected by huge networks of ornithologists, birdwatchers and conservationists who have carried out surveys of bird distributions and numbers over past decades.

Wherever possible, IBAs are identified nationally, using data collected locally and applying criteria agreed globally. The BirdLife Partner, Partner Designate, Affiliate or Country Programme leads nationally in IBA identification, first setting up a national IBA steering committee, comprising major stakeholder institutions. Since the primary aim is improved site conservation, involving appropriate government agencies from the beginning means the objectives and results are fully understood and more likely to be sympathetically received by those responsible for Protected Area designation.

There follows a thorough review of existing knowledge of the national avifauna and its distribution. The wider consultation may involve national workshops which bring together experts who draw up and debate draft IBA lists, and undertake a gap analysis to ensure that relevant trigger species have not been left out. Additional fieldwork may be required to determine whether sites identified at these workshops warrant proposing as IBAs.

The training in, among other things, bird-survey and -identification techniques as part of the gap-filling field-survey effort has been a considerable additional benefit of the programme, resulting in a large increase in ornithological knowledge and expertise for BirdLife Partners and collaborating government agencies.

Deciding where to put the IBA boundary is often straightforward, guided by obvious habitat boundaries or protected-area or land-ownership or -management boundaries. In other cases, this requires consultation and fieldwork. As each site and its local context is unique, there are no fixed rules, only guidelines. Similarly, there is no set maximum or minimum size for an IBA—what is biologically sensible has to be balanced against practical considerations of how best the site may be conserved, which is the main priority. Wherever possible, agreement of an IBA’s boundary should be a consultative process.

A relatively recent addition to the IBA process has been boundary digitisation, using GIS software and web-based satellite imagery. Polygons exist now for more than 95% of the confirmed IBAs held in the WBDB. Partners are encouraged to make boundary digitisation a routine part of the description process.

Marine IBAs

Although the identification stage of the IBA programme is currently approaching completion in terrestrial (including inland and coastal wetland) environments, the process is still at a relatively early stage in the marine realm.

As a first step, existing datasets were analysed to identify all IBAs which might already be considered marine IBAs on the basis of seabird breeding colonies. Worldwide, 2042 IBAs have been identified because they hold more than threshold numbers of one or more seabird species. Work is in progress to compile a database of seabird foraging distances and depths, so that foraging areas associated with breeding colonies are brought within the IBAs. Initial findings are being used to test the distances proposed for extensions to IBAs in France, Italy and Peru.

BirdLife Partners in Portugal and Spain are looking at how IBAs might be identified for pelagic species, and the closely-related question of defining site boundaries for these areas. Identifying and then effectively protecting IBAs on the high seas (international waters outside territorial limits) presents many challenges, but is a priority for pelagic seabird conservation. Responsibility for designating IBAs on the high seas will be led by the Secretariat through BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme, while designation of IBAs within territorial waters will be led by the country concerned.

Monitoring IBAs

Monitoring is central to the IBA process. It is essential to track and respond to threats, understand the status and trends of biodiversity, and assess the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

BirdLife’s global IBA monitoring framework builds on the framework adopted by the BirdLife African Partnership in 2002, later refined by input from the regional BirdLife Partnerships, and informed by a pilot implementation by Nature Kenya. It has been agreed that IBA monitoring information should be collated nationally every four years, to mesh with the schedule for Red List species assessments.

Regular monitoring can be done in simple and inexpensive ways. The minimum requirement is regular collection of information on at least one appropriate indicator for each of “pressure”, “state” and “response”. The IBA monitoring framework provides a standardised way of assigning scores to the selected indicators (e.g. for threat, “low”, “medium”, “high” or “very high”). Comparing scores between years gives an indication of trends. The framework also guides the capture of information on responses, such as the activities of Local Conservation Groups (LCGs, see below).

IBA monitoring almost always requires working in partnership with other organisations, especially site management authorities. If monitoring is “institutionalised” within these organisations, so that it becomes part of their routine work, costs can be kept low, although extra resources are needed for co-ordination, training and reporting.

Remote sensing can be combined with monitoring on the ground to track changes in habitat extent and quality. This is especially useful for sites that are hard to visit or too big to assess easily. Remote sensing for IBA monitoring is being trialled by several BirdLife Partners. An easy-to-use on-line tool to detect vegetation change, that can be used anywhere with an internet connection, is under development.

IBAs as Key Biodiversity Areas

IBAs put species of concern on the map by identifying sites that are important for their survival. There is no reason why this approach should be restricted to birds. (Around half BirdLife’s national Partners are nature conservation organisations that are not exclusively focused on birds.)

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), which extend the IBA concept and are similarly identified using globally standardised criteria, are being adopted by other taxonomically-focused organisations. Plantlife International explicitly followed BirdLife’s example in seeking to identify Important Plant Areas. Other examples include Prime Butterfly Areas and Important Dragonfly Areas, Important Herptile (reptile and amphibian) Areas, Important Sites for Freshwater Biodiversity, and Key Mammal Areas in the USA.

Protecting IBAs contributes to global conservation targets

A BirdLife analysis of 10,993 IBAs found that species occurring in sites with greater protected-area (PA) coverage had experienced smaller increases in extinction risk over recent decades. The increase was half as large for bird species with more than 50% of the IBAs at which they occur completely covered by PAs.

But on average only 39% of each IBA is protected. Only 28% are completely covered by PAs, and 49% are wholly unprotected. And while PA coverage of important sites has increased over time, the proportion of PA area covering important sites has declined annually since 1950. Better targeted site-scale conservation, using IBAs, would help address the mismatch between the expanding PA network and declining species trends.

6.  BirdLife Policy, Environmental Legislation and International Conventions

BirdLife uses its data on species, sites, habitats and people to influence relevant policies and priorities of governments, corporations and other key organisations, and to support international conservation conventions and other international agreements and initiatives. To influence decisions, information is analysed and provided in a form that matches policy requirements.

The high quality of BirdLife’s technical input is widely recognised by decision-makers, reflecting its basis in sound science, the strict application of criteria, its well-established local (source) to global (synthesis) process, and its use of a monitoring cycle to keep abreast of dynamic issues.

Policy and advocacy

The evolution of BirdLife International’s policy and advocacy work has seen a steady rise in the number of Partners involved. In 1993, a Global Policy and Advocacy Working Group was formed to develop the criteria for selecting and reviewing the policy issues that BirdLife would focus on. BirdLife’s policy and advocacy efforts continued to grow from 10 staff in six Partners in 1998 to more than 70 Partners in six regions by 2006.

In 2003, the Dutch government provided funding for the Partnership’s policy and advocacy work “to ensure rational natural resource use by local people at priority sites through the enhancement of an effective civil society support framework for sustainable development”. This support helped BirdLife Partners and Local Conservation Groups engage with policy issues at local, national, and even international level.

About 56% of BirdLife Partners are in least developed and developing countries which are signatories to international environmental conventions like the CBD, CMS and Ramsar. However, their governments have not always been able to implement the national requirements of these conventions. Increasingly, the policy and advocacy capacity of BirdLife Partners has helped their governments to meet these obligations. Some BirdLife Partners regularly attend Conferences of Parties (COPs) to the conventions as part of government delegations.

There are still important gaps in geographical coverage of the CBD and other multilateral environmental agreements that reduce their effectiveness. BirdLife Partners have increasingly been working both directly with the conventions and through their member governments to try to fill some of these gaps, and thereby help secure the conservation of threatened birds and IBAs.

As well as working with the international conventions, BirdLife Partners are very active in regional agreements, initiatives and legislation. Partners in Africa are particularly heavily involved in regional economic institutions such as the Southern Africa Development Community, Central Africa Regional Programme for Environment, East African Community, and Economic Community of West African States. This is a reflection of the strong sub-regional organisations within Africa.

Regional and sub-regional environmental strategies and initiatives include the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species and Sites Initiatives, Waterbird Plan for the Americas, Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds, Asian-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy, and Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora.

Partners from countries in the European Union are most actively engaged with the EU’s Birds and Habitat Directives, and Natura 2000/Special Protection Areas. Binding legislation allows EU Partners to have more confidence in pursuing matters through the European Court, and Partners feel their work on EU legislation realises more output per unit of effort than work on international conventions, although they are working on these too.

BirdLife in the European Union

Due to the ever-increasing impact that decisions taken at European Union (EU) level have on nature and the environment, EU policy is a key priority for BirdLife. Since 1993, BirdLife has had an office in Brussels where the main EU institutions are located. BirdLife Europe and the Partners in the 27 EU member states are active in promoting and advocating BirdLife’s positions in institutions like the European Commission and the European Parliament. Working together in a number of common Task Forces the BirdLife Partners lobby national decision makers, and advise, train and help one another to deal with EU policy-related issues in their countries.

The EU has introduced ambitious standards and binding legislation for environmental protection. With the Birds and Habitats Directives, the member states and the European Parliament have adopted flexible and modern legislation for the protection of nature which is admired throughout the world. In most EU countries these standards would have never been achieved by national government action alone.

Currently BirdLife’s EU Policy Team, the Task Forces and the Partners are concentrating on three main areas: the phasing out of perverse subsidies and the introduction of safeguards against harmful investments; the provision of adequate funding for biodiversity conservation, most notably for the management of the Natura 2000 network; and more sustainable use of living resources, including an end to over-fishing, reorientation of farming towards ecologically compatible practices, and a reduction in energy demand to help achieve a 30% decline in greenhouse gases by 2020.

The Birds and Habitats Directives

The Birds Directive is the EU’s oldest piece of nature legislation and one of the most important, creating a comprehensive scheme of protection for all wild bird species naturally occurring in the EU. ICBP, together with member organisations such as the RSPB, was instrumental in shaping the Directive, which was adopted unanimously by the members states in 1979 as a response to increasing concern about declines in Europe’s wild bird populations. It was also in recognition that wild birds are a shared heritage of the member states and that their effective conservation requires international co-operation.

The Directive recognises that habitat loss and degradation are the most serious threats to the conservation of wild birds. It therefore places great emphasis on the protection of habitats, especially through the establishment of a coherent network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Since 1994, all SPAs have formed an integral part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network of protected sites.

The Birds Directive played an important role in the development of the BirdLife Partnership’s IBA programme, and conversely, IBAs have been widely used for the designation of SPAs, and consequently Natura 2000 sites. Following lobbying by BirdLife Partners, the European Commission has used the IBA inventory to pursue action against member states by demonstrating that they had classified insufficient numbers and areas of SPAs.

BirdLife has monitored, informed and supported the development and implementation of the Birds Directive since the 1980s, and the Habitats Directive since the 1990s. BirdLife’s European Partnership sees its roles as a provider of relevant and reliable data, expertise and policy positions to European and national decision makers; a “watchdog” to promote the full and correct implementation of the Directives at EU and national levels, including monitoring and financing of implementation; a key contributor to stakeholder dialogue on better implementation, to ensure strong support and wide acceptance of the Directives; and a communicator of the benefits emerging from biodiversity conservation in general and from the implementation of the Directives in particular.

To celebrate 25 years of the Birds Directive in 2004, BirdLife published Birds in the European Union: a status assessment, which used the wealth of bird data collected by BirdLife and its Partners to provide updated population information on all species from every EU country. The assessment contained strong evidence that the Birds Directive was successful in helping those bird species to which it affords special protection, for example through SPAs, but that other species were suffering from the effects of EU sectoral policies, especially the Common Agricultural Policy, and from additional pressures that run counter to the Birds Directive.

The overall conservation status of birds was worsening throughout Europe, with farmland birds, long-distance migrants and waders doing particularly badly. The EU Birds Directive had made some progress in reversing these trends. The fact that wetland and colonial bird species, which are especially site dependent, were doing relatively well demonstrated the benefits of the SPA network. However, only about a third of the EU countries were coming close to completion of their SPA networks, and even among older EU members only 44% of the total IBA area was classified as SPAs, ranging from a very low 22% in France to over 80% in Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, and 100% in Luxembourg. New member states had made a good start, with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia submitting SPA lists covering 88–94% of IBAs.

7. Campaigns

BirdLife’s structure as a global network of national Partners with strong local representation in many countries provides an ideal mechanism for effective campaigning. Local campaigns can be supported by national Partners, or a number of national Partners can campaign together on transboundary issues, with support from BirdLife’s regional secretariats. Campaigns addressing threats to sites with global significance can be escalated with the help of the BirdLife International Secretariat, to gain international attention.

National BirdLife Partners and the BirdLife Secretariat regularly take action when Important Bird Areas, or in Europe, Natura 2000 sites, are under serious threat. These campaigns aim to protect nature by convincing key stakeholders (such as national governments and parliamentarians, land managers, developers, local communities and regional institutions) to find solutions that reconcile the competing interests without irreversibly harming our natural environment.

In an increasingly globalised economy, threats to IBAs often come from development projects funded with foreign investment or aid, so support from developed-country Partners for campaigns in developing countries can be particularly effective. However, BirdLife’s capacity-building activities have empowered many developing-country Partners to lead and coordinate international campaigns for themselves.

Lake Natron in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya, is the most significant and regular breeding site for the majority of the world’s population of Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). But in 2006, the Tanzanian government and the Indian company Tata Chemicals put forward proposals for a large-scale industrial plant, supported by an extensive road and rail infrastructure, to extract soda ash from Lake Natron’s water.

WCST (BirdLife in Tanzania) made a submission to Tanzania’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC), which stated “in the eyes of conservationists, the implementation of this project will result in an ecosystem catastrophe in the long run”. Since that initial submission, WCST has maintained constant opposition to the project plans, including press releases, radio interviews, and lobbying and advising government officials.

In early 2007, the Lake Natron Consultative Group was formed by concerned institutions, including WCST and other BirdLife Partners. The Group aimed to raise awareness of the threat to Lake Natron, and the damage that would be done to local communities and their livelihoods. With more than 50 member institutions covering Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas, the Group is coordinated from BirdLife’s Africa Partnership Secretariat.

Representatives of WCST, BirdLife International and the Group attended the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) stakeholder’s meeting in Dar es Salaam. WCST made a detailed critique of the ESIA and presented BirdLife’s position, which requested the project be halted on the precautionary principle. Over 90% of members of the public present were opposed to the development. The strongest opposition came from twelve community members from villages surrounding Lake Natron.

BirdLife Partners from 23 African countries signed a petition against the project and sent it to the Tanzanian government, and BirdLife initiated the global “Think Pink” campaign to help save Lake Natron. In April 2008, Tata Chemicals announced that they had withdrawn their ESIA report, and in May, Tata pulled out of the soda-ash project.

In January 2009, BirdLife adopted a new direction for the “Think Pink” campaign, involving a shift from strong outward opposition to working with the Tanzanian (and Kenyan) governments and other partners to find sustainable long-term solutions for Lake Natron. In February 2010, Tanzania’s Action Plan for the Conservation of Lesser Flamingos was finalised, with the participation of BirdLife’s International and African Secretariats, WCST, Nature Kenya (BirdLife in Kenya), RSPB, the Wetlands Unit of Tanzania’s Wildlife Division, local government and the local community. It aimed, among other things, to protect the integrity of Lake Natron and other soda lakes, and emphasised the need for regional cooperation to conserve East Africa’s 1·5–2·5 million Lesser Flamingos.

But in May 2010, new information was received which indicated that Tanzania’s National Development Corporation (NDC) was still keen for the soda-ash plant to go ahead. In April 2011, the President ordered the Ministry of Industry and Trade to fast-track the project. However, the NEMC gave a strong hint that the project would face serious approval hurdles, and Tanzania’s Director of Environment told national media that benefits from conserving the natural resources (such as tourism) would outweigh those of soda ash mining. Although the threat has not gone away, the government has reiterated its commitment to maintaining the ecosystem so that flamingos can continue to breed.

All the BirdLife Partnership’s work has a foundation of strong science. In tandem with the campaigning and advocacy that the Partnership’s structure makes possible, BirdLife is often able to uncover the roots of a conservation problem, identify solutions, and work with governments to remove environmental threats. BirdLife’s response to the “vulture crisis” in southern Asia provides an example.

Vultures were once a common sight throughout South Asia, but in the late 1990s, the Indian populations of Indian White-backed (White-rumped) Vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Long-billed (Indian) Vulture (G. indicus) and Slender-billed Vulture (G. [indi­cus] tenuirostris) crashed, with dramatic declines also observed in Nepal and Pakistan. Long-billed (Indian) and Slender-billed Vulture populations fell by almost 97% between 1992 and 2007, and Indian White-backed (White-rumped) Vultures by 99·9%, to just one thousandth of their 1992 population. All three species are now Critically Endangered. Declines are also occurring in non-Gyps vultures in these countries.

Although reductions in food availability and poisoning from pesticides may have played a role, the factor responsible for this catastrophic collapse remained a mystery until 2004, when a study investigating vulture mortalities in the Punjab found that 85% had died of visceral gout, a condition caused by renal failure. Having eliminated the classic causes of renal failure, researchers tested the theory that vultures were encountering a toxin while feeding on livestock carcasses. Surveys of veterinarians and pharmacists identified diclofenac, a widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, known to be toxic to the kidneys of mammals. Residue testing found diclofenac in all the vultures that had died of visceral gout.

Research involving the RSPB and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India) found that the normal veterinary dose of diclofenac in an animal carcass is fatal to vultures. They used models to show that only a very small proportion of livestock carcasses need to contain this level of diclofenac to result in population declines at the observed rates, because vultures congregate at feeding sites.

BirdLife Partners in India, Nepal (Bird Conservation Nepal), Pakistan and the UK helped identify an alternative drug, Meloxicam, that was safe for vultures. In 2006, following lobbying by BirdLife and its Partners, the governments of India, Pakistan and Nepal introduced a ban on the manufacture of diclofenac, and pharmaceutical firms are now encouraged to promote Meloxicam. The manufacturing ban has had some success—for example, use of diclofenac has dropped by 90% in parts of Nepal. Unfortunately, there is still no ban on the sale or use of the drug, and the trend across South Asia is of continuing vulture declines.

Decisions in one part of the world can have huge and damaging impacts on another, underlining the importance of the BirdLife Partnership’s ability to coordinate a global response. A report commissioned by NGOs including BirdLife Europe found that plans to increase the use of biofuels in Europe over the next 10 years will require the conversion of an area over twice the size of Belgium. The study concluded that when indirect land uses like processing and transport are taken into account, biofuels will emit an extra 27–56 million tonnes of greenhouse gas per year—equivalent to an extra 12–26 million cars on Europe’s roads.

Many of the largest biofuel plantations are in developing countries, although the fuel is for export rather than local consumption. Targeted areas are often highly important for biodiversity and local livelihoods. For example, the Dakatcha Woodland IBA in Kenya, one of the last patches of relatively intact coastal woodland in East Africa, is home to many threatened and restricted-range species, and possibly the only nesting site for the Endangered Clarke’s Weaver (Ploceus golandi). Many local people depend on the natural resources and ecosystem services Dakatcha provides.

Following a campaign led by Nature Kenya, supported by other BirdLife Partners, Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority rejected a proposal to convert 10,000 hectares of Dakatcha Woodland to grow the biofuel crop jatropha (Jatropha curcus). The decision was based on scientific evidence on the damaging impacts of biofuels submitted by BirdLife Partners. Nature Kenya has now initiated alternative livelihood activities at Dakatcha, including sustainable forestry management.

8. Forests of Hope

Three-quarters of all bird species are found in forests, chiefly in the tropics. The majority, especially threatened species, are dependent on intact habitat for their survival. Yet around seven million hectares of tropical forest are destroyed each year.

First ICBP, then the BirdLife Partnership, have been working in tropical forest conservation for decades, in more than 50 countries. Around the world Partners are involved in numerous projects to conserve intact forest and restore degraded forest ecosystems, and promote sustainable forest use.

BirdLife’s Forests of Hope Programme brings together and builds on these many successes. Its aim is the prevention of deforestation and the restoration of natural forest covering at least five million hectares of tropical forest worldwide by 2020. Forests of Hope links forest conservation on the ground to BirdLife’s policy and advocacy work at national and international level, and the BirdLife Partnership is working in tropical countries around the world to pilot innovative management, financing and governance systems for forest and biodiversity conservation and restoration.

The majority of deforestation is for conversion to agriculture or rangeland, often preceded by commercial logging. Large parts of tropical Asia and South America are being cleared for pulp and paper or converted to oil palm and rubber. Remnant patches are often too small and isolated to safeguard complete biological communities; however, even tiny fragments can be critically important for some forest-dependent species. Many previously continuous tropical forests have come to consist of protected fragments scattered across a mainly agricultural landscape. This is already the situation in countries such as the Philippines, Costa Rica and Ghana. In Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, all primary rainforest outside conservation areas has effectively been lost.

Selective logging is also widespread throughout the tropics. This almost always impoverishes bird communities, and leads to further disturbance, including encroachment and increased hunting, and fires which can have more lasting impacts than the logging itself.

Deforestation accounts for 15–20% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions every year. Tropical forests play a crucial role in sequestering and storing carbon, so clearing forested land for so-called “carbon neutral” biofuel crops will accelerate, rather than arrest, climate change. There has been no effective mechanism for realising the true value of intact forest, and consequently national governments have focused on short-term financial gain, regardless of the fact that conversion of forests makes no economic sense once unmarketed ecological services are taken into account.

BirdLife and its Partners have been advising the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on a financial regime for forest protection under which developing countries could raise funds to protect their forests. REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) aims to mitigate climate change by providing a financial return for the carbon stored in tropical forests. REDD will potentially lead to the transfer of billions of dollars from developed to forested developing countries. REDD also ensures that biodiversity and local livelihoods are supported as co-beneficiaries.

Deforestation and degradation can result from unmanaged use by communities around the forest. This was the situation at Arabuko-Sokoke, the largest remnant of the forests that once dominated Kenya’s coastal fringe. BirdLife ranks Arabuko-Sokoke as the second most important forest for conservation of threatened birds in mainland Africa. Of more than 230 bird species recorded, nine are globally threatened. Clarke’s Weaver is known only from Arabuko-Sokoke and Dakatcha woodland (see Campaigns, above), and Sokoke Scops-owl (Otus ireneae) is known only from one other site. The forest is the stronghold of Sokoke Pipit (Anthus sokokensis). All three are Endangered.

Although a Forest Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke has suffered from unsustainable use and illegal activities. Extreme poverty results in heavy demands, especially for firewood, building materials and bushmeat, which endanger resources that support local communities.

BirdLife has been closely involved at Arabuko-Sokoke since 1983. From 1996 until March 2002, this was through the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Management and Conservation Project, co-ordinated by BirdLife’s International Secretariat in collaboration with Kenyan government agencies. BirdLife Partner Nature Kenya became increasingly involved, and since April 2002 has played the leading role.

A combination of community participation with strengthened law enforcement has been at the heart of the project, along with development of forest-based income-generating activities (such as beekeeping, butterfly farming and ecotourism), education, and monitoring to assess the effectiveness of all these activities.

The 25-year Strategic Forest Management Plan for Arabuko-Sokoke was developed in a participatory way, with over 150 people representing every stakeholder group. The plan aims to put in place sustainable forest management and conservation practices, with the vision that in 2027 Arabuko-Sokoke will be an intact, fully-functioning forest ecosystem with no reduction in area. Arabuko-Sokoke was the first state-owned forest in Kenya where community involvement in forest management was allowed, and the highest levels of government have endorsed the plan. The continuing survival of the forest and its fauna during an era of forest loss in most of the country is the clearest sign of the project’s success.

Brazil has more globally threatened birds than any other country on Earth. Of its 111 threatened species, 98 live in the Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. It once covered approximately 1·7 million km2 of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, but now only 7·4% remains, mostly in scattered fragments.

In 2006, BirdLife Partner SAVE Brasil published Important Bird Areas in Brazil: Part I – the Atlantic Forest Region. While 73% of 163 sites identified were in protected areas or private reserves, the other 27% had no protection. The book recognised that what was needed was not necessarily more protected areas, but rather better management of existing ones.

First identified in 1992, in the Americas Red Data Book, 61 km2 of Atlantic Forest at Murici in north-east Brazil had already been declared an Ecological Station, the highest form of protection in Brazil, thanks to the efforts of BirdLife’s Brazil Country Programme, supported by letters of support from BirdLife Partners around the world. Murici is home to 15 globally threatened birds, including Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (Philydor novaesi) and Alagoas Antwren (Myrmotherula snowi), both endemic to Brazil’s northeast. Alagoas Foliage-gleaner has since been found by SAVE Brasil at Frei Caneca, a newly-created private reserve in neighbouring Pernambuco state. These two were among four bird species new to science found in the area in the last decades of the twentieth century.

In 1999, the British Birdwatching Fair had raised money for BirdLife’s “Rescuing Brazil’s Atlantic Forests” project. This was used to set up BirdLife’s Brazil Country Programme (which became SAVE Brasil in 2004), and the task of persuading the government to protect Murici began in earnest. With the government’s agreement, BirdLife carried out species-status surveys, provided maps of landowning interests, and helped establish an advisory committee for the reserve.

Birdfair money was also used in preparing fundraising applications for a second site, Serra das Lontras, part of the coastal massif of southern Bahia. The money raised was used to purchase 500 ha for a private nature reserve, a refuge for nine globally threatened birds.

Another recently discovered species, Pink-legged Graveteiro (Acrobatornis fonsecai), is dependent on canopy trees in traditional shade-grown cocoa plantations. SAVE Brasil has worked with farmers to move to organic cocoa production, which requires them to maintain 20% of original forest.

In 2009, SAVE Brasil launched the project “Boa nova para a natureza” (“good news for nature”). The region of Boa Nova, south-west Bahia, has a unique biodiversity because the lush montane Atlantic Forest overlaps with semi-arid caatinga. More than 350 bird species have been recorded at Boa Nova, ten of them globally threatened.

As a result of SAVE Brasil’s work with government, communities, landowners and local NGOs, in 2010 Brazil’s President signed documents establishing Boa Nova National Park and Boa Nova Wildlife Refuge, Serra das Lontras National Park and Alto Cariri National Park, and expanding of Pau Brasil National Park. Together these will protect about 60,000 ha of Atlantic Forest.

When SAVE Brasil began work, these sites were known only to a few ornithologists. Now that they are recognised at national level, the chances for the survival of an impressive number of threatened bird species have improved dramatically.

The Gola Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of the Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem, which once covered most of Sierra Leone, south-east Guinea, Liberia, southern Ivory Coast and south-west Ghana. Originally the forest extended over 420,000 km2, but less than 20% is believed to remain, and is being rapidly degraded and fragmented.

Of 274 bird species recorded in Gola Forest, 14 are of global conservation concern, notably the Endangered Gola Malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni), and seven species classified as Vulnerable, including White-necked Picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) and White-breasted Guineafowl (Agelastes meleagrides).

In 1990, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) and Sierra Leone’s Forestry Department were joined by the RSPB in conserving Sierra Leone’s Gola Forest Reserve. The programme was abandoned between 1996 and 2002, because of civil wars on both sides of the border, but in 2004 work was resumed, with the objective, supported by senior politicians, of establishing Gola as a protected area. In December, 2011 the President of Sierra Leone announced the creation of the Gola Rainforest National Park.

Gola is one piece of forest, divided by the border. Conservation was proceeding rapidly in Sierra Leone, but two-thirds of the remaining forest is on the Liberian side. BirdLife’s vision had always been to conserve Gola as a single unit, and the opportunity arose with the appointment of the Society for Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SNCL) as the BirdLife Partner. The project was supported by the Presidents of both countries.

BirdLife’s “Across the River” Transboundary Peace Park initiative was awarded a European Union grant to establish a 200,000 ha protected area. The project is coordinated by the BirdLife Africa Partnership, and involves four BirdLife Partners (CSSL, SNCL, VBN and RSPB), with the Forestry Development Authority of Liberia, and the Forestry Division of Sierra Leone.

In 2010 the two governments began the formal process of designating the Gola Rainforest as a shared National Park and Protected Area, and in December 2011, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in management, research, protection and conservation of the Park. They affirmed that the area shall be retained in its natural state, protecting carbon, water and biodiversity for the benefit of the larger community, but particularly those living around the park.

The community has been involved in project implementation throughout. Traditional rulers are part of the steering committee. There are provisions for development projects such as schools, and additional support for more sustainable livelihoods. Already 100 local people are working as rangers in the Gola Rainforest National Park. Both Governments have expressed interest in carbon trading and in the REDD process. There will also be revenue from tourism. The Peace Park has the potential to raise tens of millions of dollars over forthcoming decades, ensuring sustained funding for protected area management and community development.

The project is fostering cooperation between the environment and forest departments of both countries in dealing with law enforcement, participatory management, joint border patrols, and even shared security. The Transboundary Peace Park has become a flagship project of the BirdLife Africa Partnership. It includes capacity development of CSSL and SNCL, who have been fundamental to the whole process, and now work closely with their governments.

BirdLife’s Forests of Hope programme began with Harapan Forest in Indonesia, where many of the richest wildlife sites, including forest IBAs, are in areas zoned by the government for private, commercial exploitation—so-called “logging conces­sions”. Beginning in 2004, BirdLife Partner Burung Indonesia, with the support of the BirdLife Secretariat and the RSPB, worked with Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry to enable logging concessions to be managed in the interests of nature conservation. This became law in 2007.

Burung Indonesia and supporting BirdLife Partners had assessed all the remaining lowland forest in Sumatra, using satellite maps and bird data. From a shortlist of five, analysis of forest quality and coverage and species richness led them to the site known formally as the Tajau Pecah Lalan Kapas forest block. BirdLife decided to call it “Harapan”, meaning “hope” in Indonesian. Of 235 bird species confirmed to date in the forest, there is one Endangered species, Storm’s Stork (Ciconia stormi), five Vulnerable species, and 62 Near Threatened species. Harapan is also home to 37 mammal species, with up to 20 Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae), from a global population of 100–300. The new law opened the way for BirdLife to acquire the rights to manage Harapan Rainforest as a model for forest restoration, wildlife conservation and sustainable local development. Other BirdLife Partners supporting the work at Harapan include BirdLife Belgium, SVS/BirdLife Switzerland and NABU.

The legal framework the BirdLife consortium helped create has inspired others to follow. In 2009 the Ministry received as many applications for forest restoration licences as for logging concessions, and by the end of 2011, there were 40 applications for forest restorations, totalling a further 3·9 million ha.

In 2010, Indonesia’s Forest Minister announced the expansion of the 52,000 ha Harapan concession to 98,555 ha. BirdLife expects that after several decades of conservation management, large portions of degraded forest will have regenerated to form rich wildlife habitat. The project site will then hold more than 10% of Sumatra’s remaining lowland rainforest. More than five million native trees are being planted in the most degraded areas, to link fragments of rich forest into contiguous wildlife habitat. Illegal logging has been significantly decreased and forest fires all but stamped out.

Village natural-resource-management agreements have been negotiated with neighbouring communities, allowing sustainable use of forest resources. More than 170 “green jobs” have been created in forest conservation, almost all for the local community, including several for the indigenous Batin Sembilan.

Harapan Rainforest is the first restoration forest of its kind in Indonesia and the world. This ambitious project provides a model for forest ecosystem restoration, carbon sequestration and sustainable management throughout Indonesia, with lessons that can be shared with other tropical countries.

9. BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme

In March 2012, a major review in BirdLife’s journal Bird Conservation International examined the status of all the world’s seabirds. The review, based on BirdLife’s data and assessments for the IUCN Red List, confirmed that seabirds are more threatened than any other group of birds. Of 346 seabird species, 97 (28%) are globally threatened and a further 10% Near Threatened. Nearly half of all seabird species are known or suspected to be experiencing population declines. The albatross family is especially imperilled, with 17 of 22 species threatened with extinction.

Human activities lie behind these declines. At sea, commercial fisheries have degraded fish stocks and caused the deaths of innumerable seabirds through accidental “bycatch”, while on land the introduction of invasive species has killed off many breeding colonies.

The situation would be even worse without the actions of the BirdLife Partnership and some governments and fisheries-management organisations. These actions have included protecting nesting sites, especially by eradicating alien predators, and changing fishing methods to make them less hazardous to seabirds.

There may still be time to reverse these declines, and the actions that need to be taken are already well understood. Fisheries bycatch must be minimised and ideally eliminated altogether, and the sites where seabirds congregate—both onshore breeding colonies and offshore feeding grounds—must be protected. Having already identified many Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for seabirds on land, BirdLife is about to publish the first inventory of marine IBAs in the high seas. It is hoped that these will help develop a global network of Marine Protected Areas and assist the implementation of new approaches to management and protection of marine systems.

Seabird conservation—particularly protection and restoration of islands where seabirds breed, and prevention of oil pollution—had been among ICBP’s concerns from the early days. But it was not until 1982, at a workshop which brought together experts in seabird biology and conservation from around the world, that ICBP attempted to compile a comprehensive picture of the state of the world’s seabirds. The workshop was followed by a symposium on global priorities for seabird conservation and research, and resulted in the publication of an 800-page report, Status and Conservation of the World’s Seabirds. This included 47 papers covering all the world’s oceans and coastal waters, and examining what was known—and unknown—about 282 seabird species

It was soon clear that, as the editors of a 1994 BirdLife publication (Seabirds on Islands: Threats, Case Studies and Action Plans) put it: “Seabird conservation can be attained only through unprecedented levels of cooperation among seabird biologists and the institutions and organisations that support them.”

BirdLife established the Global Seabird Conservation Programme (now the Global Seabird Programme, GSP) in 1997. With funding from the 2000 British Birdwatching Fair, the BirdLife Partnership launched the “Save the Albatross” campaign, which raised awareness of the problem of seabird bycatch from longline fishing, and money to develop mitigation measures (see below).

Seabird science

Some 350 species (3·5% of all birds) are entirely dependent on marine habitats for at least part of their life cycle. Although numbering relatively few species, seabirds occur in all seas and oceans worldwide, and their role as indicators of marine conditions is widely acknowledged.

The 2012 report described above, Seabird conservation status, threats and priority actions: a global assessment, was based on various BirdLife data sources. Of 132 threatened/Near Threatened seabird species, 70 qualify because of very small population or range, and 66 by reason of rapid decline. Of particular concern are those where small range or population is combined with decline (64 species; 48%).

Of the top ten threats to threatened seabirds, invasive species at the breeding site potentially affect 73 species, and bycatch impacts 40 species. Bycatch, which has only been recognised as a threat for about two decades, is the most pervasive and immediate threat to many albatross and petrel species.

Since 2007, BirdLife International has been compiling a database of seabird foraging ranges and ecological preferences in the marine environment. The aim is to provide an authoritative global dataset that can be used to delimit marine IBAs adjacent to major breeding colonies, highlight gaps in our knowledge of foraging behaviour, and help identify key areas for future research. The database contains over 4000 entries for 250 species, with information for every seabird family. Information from the database has been used by a growing number of BirdLife Partners undertaking marine IBA analysis.

A wide range of databases already exist that contain information on seabird breeding colonies. However these have generally been established for specific regions, countries or projects, and there is often a lack of commonality that would allow for information exchange, comparisons and global analysis. BirdLife, as part of the recently established World Seabird Union, is helping build a World Seabird Colony Database which will provide a better understanding of how seabird populations fluctuate over time and space; allow for analysis related to existing and emerging threats such as climate change; assist prioritisation exercises on regional and global scales (such as sites most in need of alien eradication); and help identify future management priorities.

The BirdLife International report Tracking Ocean Wanderers, published in 2004, highlighted crucial areas for the conservation of albatrosses across the world’s oceans. The Tracking Ocean Wanderers Database is the largest collection of seabird tracking data in existence. Now online as the Global Procellariiform Tracking Database, it serves as a central store for seabird tracking data from around the world. Data holders have established a protocol for accessing and sharing the database, which is held and managed by BirdLife.


Simple, inexpensive measures exist which can dramatically reduce the number of seabirds killed by longline and trawl fisheries. These measures can reduce bycatch of seabirds without any negative effect on fish catches. Catches actually increase in some cases, as shown by a trial of mitigation measures on a Norwegian longline fishing vessel. With the use of a bird-scaring line, bird bycatch dropped to zero, while fish catch increased by over 30%. Another recent study in a small fishery (three vessels) in Argentina demonstrated that bird-scaring lines, which reduce bait loss to scavenging birds, can lead to savings of between US$1–2 million over ten years.

Other simple and effective measures include setting longlines at night when birds are less active, and adding weights to lines to make them sink more rapidly out of reach. These measures can reduce bycatch by 80–90%, especially when used in combination.

Although this message seems straightforward, the challenge is to communicate it effectively to diverse communities of fishermen worldwide. What works for one fishery does not necessarily work for others. Under the leadership of the RSPB, BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme created the Albatross Task Force (ATF), the world’s first international team of seabird bycatch mitigation instructors, in 2005. It works with the fishing industry to raise awareness of seabird bycatch, and accompanies fishermen to sea to demonstrate the measures that reduce it.

The first team of instructors was established in South Africa, closely followed by teams in Brazil and Chile. In 2008, coverage expanded into Argentina, Namibia and Uruguay, and subsequently Ecuador. The ATF is currently expanding into Peru, completing its presence in the most important countries for seabird bycatch in southern Africa and South America. The Task Force now operates in eight countries and employs 16 instructors.

The influence of ATF teams has been far reaching:

•  In Brazil, around 50% of the Santos and Itajai fleets are already voluntarily using mitigation measures. In April 2011, new fishery regulations based on ATF research results made mitigation measures compulsory across the longline fishery.

•  In the South African hake trawl fishery, deployment of streamer lines has been made compulsory and has reduced albatross mortality by about 90%.

•  In Chile, the pelagic longline swordfish fishery uses a suite of three best-practice measures, and seabird bycatch is minimal. In southern Chile, bycatch was reduced from over 1500 birds to zero in one year through the adoption of modified fishing gear.

•  In the Namibian trawl fleet, the ATF has shown that seabird bycatch can be brought to a minimum using bird-scaring lines.

•  In Argentina, mitigation measures in the trawl fishery have shown it is possible to reduce seabird mortality to close to zero.

The Task Force is at a stage where much of the necessary research has been completed and significant advances in raising awareness in government and fisheries have been made. Ensuring adoption of regulations in each country and across entire fleets is the crucial next step.

Global and regional seabird conservation agreements

In 2004, BirdLife conducted the first-ever environmental review of the world’s Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). In the Southern Ocean, CCAMLR (the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources) had demonstrated what could be achieved, having reduced albatross bycatch by over 99% in fisheries around South Georgia.

In the south-east Atlantic, large numbers of seabirds overlap with commercial fisheries managed by the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO). BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme reviewed SEAFO’s seabird conservation measures, and recommended improvements which SEAFO has incorporated.

In early 2001 negotiations concluded on an international treaty, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP). This agreement, which came into force in 2004, requires signatory states to take specific measures to improve the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels. ACAP is established under the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and is legally binding. BirdLife is the main NGO observer at all ACAP meetings, and plays an active role in all ACAP working groups. BirdLife is also co-leading the identification of Internationally Important Sites for ACAP species, and developing indicators to measure conservation progress through ACAP.

However, in Europe, a continent which often leads the way in conservation legislation, BirdLife estimates that fishing gear killed two million seabirds between 2000 and 2010. Without urgent action, Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus [yelkouan] mauretanicus) is threatened with extinction in the next few decades, as shown by the recent case of 54 Balearic and 18 Manx Shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus) caught on a single longline. BirdLife has called for urgent delivery of the EU’s disastrously overdue Seabird Action Plan. BirdLife’s message to the European Parliament is that it is easy to eliminate seabird bycatch by applying simple and inexpensive measures on deck. These measures are already hard-wired into fishing fleets from South Africa to Chile, but tragically not in Europe. They need to be built into fishing regulations just as routinely as mesh-size restrictions to conserve fish stocks.

Alien eradications – protecting seabird breeding sites

Introduced species—such as rats and cats—are among the greatest drivers of biodiversity loss, and have been implicated in almost half of all bird extinctions in the past five centuries. They potentially affect 75% of all threatened seabird species. In response, BirdLife and the Partnership are involved in a range of projects which are successfully removing pests from islands around the world, particularly in the Pacific.

Vatu-i-Ra, a small island IBA in Fiji, supports more than 10,000 pairs of breeding seabirds of six species. The community that owns the island was keen to protect this resource and develop low-impact tourism. However, the very high population of rats threatened the existence of the seabird colonies. A BirdLife Pacific Partnership project aimed to remove the rats, and to train community members in seabird identification and set out methods for preventing the re-establishment of rats and other introduced species. In 2008, eighteen months after the eradication exercise, the island was declared rat-free.

Another BirdLife Pacific Partnership project eradicated rats from 13 internationally and three nationally important seabird islands. Collectively these operations have created 306 ha of predator-free island habitat, protecting breeding colonies for 17 species of seabird and many other native life forms including threatened landbirds, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants.

The BirdLife Pacific Partnership is extending the restoration programme to an additional 19 important seabird islands in Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, and Palau. This project will lead to the restoration of breeding habitats for 30 seabird species and five globally threatened landbirds. The programme will be implemented by BirdLife Partners in French Polynesia (Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie), New Caledonia (Société Calédonienne d’Ornithologie), the Cook Islands (Taporoporoanga Ipukarea Society), and the Palau Conservation Society. Of the six BirdLife Partners in the tropical Pacific, four now have the technical knowledge, experience and support networks to undertake restoration of important islands.

10. Flyways and Migratory Birds

Every year, an estimated 50 billion birds representing around 23% (2274) of the world’s 10,000-plus bird species migrate between breeding and non-breeding areas. But serious declines are being detected in each of the major migration flyways.

A study based on 30 years of data in BirdLife’s Birds in Europe Database found that 48 of 119 species breeding in Europe and wintering in sub-Saharan Africa showed substantial negative population trends not apparent in non-migrants breeding in the same habitats. Similarly, data from 22 years of the North American Breeding Bird Survey found a general decline in the abundance of bird species breeding in North America and wintering in Latin America. Forty-four of these Neotropical migrants exhibited substantial declines. A 2006 study showed 59% of populations of Asian waterbirds were in decline, and in 2008, a review of trends of shorebirds in eastern Australia found migratory populations had plummeted by 79% over 24 years.

Conservation of migratory birds needs a coordinated response on a global scale. Flyways—the entire geographical areas used by migratory birds during an annual cycle, including the breeding and wintering grounds, migration routes and stopover sites—provide a framework that can help forge international collaboration. BirdLife is ideally placed to deliver this, with national Partners throughout all the flyways.

The BirdLife Partnership has combined its activities for the conservation of migratory birds into a global Flyways Programme covering the three major flyways: the African-Eurasian, East Asian-Australasian, and Americas Flyways. Between 2011 and 2013, the British Birdwatching Fair will sponsor the Flyways Programme.

Directly to the south of the Sahara, the Sahel offers migrants their first opportunity to feed after crossing the desert—and their last chance to build up fat reserves before crossing it on their return journeys. Drought and increasing desertification mean they have a much greater expanse of inhospitable country to cross. Loss of native woodland and scrub, over-grazing, and dams and irrigation schemes are reducing the extent and quality of their habitat.

BirdLife’s flyways project in the Sahel, “Living on the Edge”, is led by VBN (Netherlands) and funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery. The project is implemented by three BirdLife Partners in Africa: Fondation des Amis de la Nature (Naturama) in Burkina Faso, Ghana Wildlife Society and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. They are supported by the BirdLife Secretariats in Nairobi, Accra and Cambridge, and BirdLife Partners in Europe, particularly VBN, RSPB, LPO (France) and DOF (Denmark). Conservation activities at four wetland/savanna IBAs in the three countries include support for Local Conservation Groups, flood-plain restoration demonstrations, pilot projects to restore dryland with native shrubs and trees, and measures to combat overgrazing and woodland degradation. Twinning arrangements with IBA managers in Europe enable expertise and experience to be shared.

Communications and advocacy will target decision makers to promote solutions to the degradation of grasslands and savanna for the benefit of both migratory birds and people. National plans to combat desertification will be a particular target, as will demonstrating and communicating best practice among communities near IBAs. A second advocacy focus will be the European Union, to make the case that much higher levels of funding are needed to address the problems facing migratory birds in Africa, and that European development aid should avoid negative impacts on their habitats, such as funding afforestation with non-native species.

BirdLife Partners throughout the Americas are involved with other NGOs and governments and national and regional agencies in trans-continental initiatives like the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), the Boreal Songbird Network, and BirdLife’s own Neotropical Migrants at IBAs initiative. In just one of many regional projects, the flyway concept is being put to the test with an initiative that links three IBAs and three BirdLife Partners in the Americas: Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA, the most important inland stopover for many species of shorebird, waterbird and waterfowl in continental North America (National Audubon Society); Chaplin Lake in Saskatchewan, Canada (Nature Canada), and the Marismas Nacionales along the Pacific coast of Mexico (Pronatura). These areas, all WHSRN sites, share many of the same species, including Wilson’s Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor) and Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipixcan).

In Asia, the North East Asian Crane Site Network, managed by the Wild Bird Society of Japan (BirdLife in Japan) exists to encourage international co-operation on crane and wetland conservation. Important crane reserves in Russia, Mongolia, China, North Korea, South Korea and Japan have joined the Network. The International Black-faced Spoonbill Census, supported by BirdLife Partners in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan and the BirdLife Programme offices in Vietnam and Cambodia, is just one part of the regional work for this species. A species action plan and workshops involving all major range countries have resulted in co-ordinated actions, including satellite-tracking and field surveys, which have added considerably to knowledge of the spoonbill’s migratory movements, and have identified breeding and passage sites. The Tsengwen estuary in Taiwan, an important wintering site, was designated as a new protected area in 2002.

ICBP and migratory bird conservation

The need to protect vulnerable migratory birds was an important motive for the creation of ICBP in 1922. Many projects followed, until in 1978, ICBP began coordinating the first global initiative for migratory birds, by founding the Migratory Birds Committee (MBC).

Between 1978 and 1988, ICBP carried out more than 140 projects in Europe and Africa, building networks and supporting existing conservation bodies, and founding NGOs in countries where there had been no previous organisations devoted to the study and conservation of birds. BirdLife Partners in Nigeria and Greece were founded in these years. ICBP carried out major surveys in eight European and ten African countries, ranging from waterfowl censuses to studying the scale of bird-killing at Mediterranean migration bottlenecks, or the impact of changing hydrological regimes and pesticide use on the wetlands of the Sahel.

The MBC fostered cooperation between countries, enabling affluent European countries where the birds breed to provide funding and expertise to poorer African countries with important passage and wintering sites. Increased cooperation between bird conservation organisations in the north and south resulted in a huge number of conservation and education projects. Examples include an agreement between ICBP, the RSPB, the government of Ghana, and from 1991, the Ghana Wildlife Society (now the BirdLife Partner) to reverse the decline in the population of Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii). An agreement with the Moroccan government included surveys to locate passage and wintering populations of the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris); development of conservation management and land-use plans for significant coastal wetland sites; training in protected area management; and advice on improving the legislative status of important sites. Similar work was carried out in Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal, and in Egypt and other countries around the Mediterranean.

ICBP was instrumental in promoting international wildlife laws, most significantly the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or the Bonn Convention), and the European directives on the conservation of wild birds and habitats. Beginning with the European White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), then in decline, but now regarded as of Least Concern, and still increasing thanks to conservation action, ICBP steered development of action plans for species listed in the Appendices of the CMS.

From 1988, ICBP progressively moved from soliciting and supporting projects drawn up by other organisations and agencies, to initiating projects based on its own research, and its growing experience and expertise.

BirdLife’s Flyways Programme builds on and consolidates existing work across the world’s great flyways. BirdLife’s Sustainable Hunting Project (2004–2007) brought together national governments, hunting groups and conservation organisations from across North Africa and the Middle East to tackle the problem of migratory bird hunting. Tunisia and Lebanon were chosen as the focal countries, to demonstrate sustainable hunting activities which could be replicated in other countries. Governments in the region have agreed to strengthen compliance with international conventions, and lasting partnerships have been established ensuring that progress on sustainable hunting will continue. The Wings over Wetlands (WOW) initiative (2006–2010) was a flyway-scale project involving collaboration between BirdLife, Wetlands International, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and a range of BirdLife Partners along the African-Eurasian Flyway. The Migratory Soaring Birds project, launched in 2009, addresses the threats to raptors, storks and other large birds which use the Red Sea/Rift Valley Flyway by mainstreaming conservation into land use along the flyway. The project is being implemented in partnership with national BirdLife Partners, and other NGOs and government agencies in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Controlling hunting

Long before the Sustainable Hunting campaign began in North Africa and the Middle East, BirdLife Partners in Europe were fighting illegal and unsustainable hunting in the northern Mediterranean. In fact, the ICBP’s Migratory Birds Committee was first launched as the European Committee for the Prevention of the Mass Destruction of Migratory Birds, and the first donation made by the British Birdwatching Fair to BirdLife, in 1989, was to combat bird killing in Malta.

Anti-poaching actions against the trapping of migrant passerines and illegal shooting of birds of prey in Italy, organised by Italian Partner LIPU, have involved volunteers in direct action, and have greatly increased public awareness. At the Straits of Messina, LIPU organises camps to fight a local tradition of slaughtering Western (European) Honey-buzzards (Pernis apivorus) and other raptors. BirdLife Malta also organises camps to protect migrants, particularly raptors, in spring and autumn.

In Malta and Cyprus, the governments are either failing to observe and enforce the requirements of the European Union’s Wild Birds Directive, or openly flouting them. In spring 2011, the Maltese government allowed the shooting of a limited number of European Turtle-doves (Streptopelia turtur) and Common Quails (Coturnix coturnix), under derogation from the Birds Directive. But BirdLife Malta’s field surveys show that this open season was used as a cover for activities that put at risk many birds of European conservation concern. Illegally shot birds included Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), and Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus).

In the autumn of 2011 migratory bird killing was also out of control in Cyprus, where BirdLife Cyprus estimated that 866,905 birds were killed between 1 September and 9 October. This time the targets were songbirds, and the hunters used lime-sticks and mist-nets rather than shotguns. BirdLife Cyprus and BirdLife Malta are putting pressure on the Cyprus government to increase enforcement efforts, with the support of other BirdLife Partners in Europe, whose carefully conserved breeding birds are being destroyed either randomly for sport or for restaurant delicacies.

Despite these setbacks, over the last three decades the number of hunters in Italy has dropped dramatically from over three million to 600,000, and in Malta today more than 70% of the population is against illegal hunting. Much more needs to be done, but these results show that local attitudes and practices can be influenced for the protection of migratory birds.

Identifying and conserving critical site networks

Wings over Wetlands (WOW) was set up in 2006, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), to take a flyway-scale approach to conservation of migratory waterbirds in all 118 countries in the AEWA region. WOW brought together NGOs including many BirdLife Partners, governments, global conventions, and the people who pursue their livelihoods in and around wetlands. In 2011, the work was recognised as one of the 20 best projects in GEF’s 20-year history.

The project covers 294 waterbird species in the AEWA region. Conservation on the flyway scale requires a knowledge of the routes and sites used by all populations of these species. When WOW began, much of this information had been assembled, but was spread across a number of different databases held by different organisations.

BirdLife’s World Bird Database (WBDB), for example, stores information on key sites (IBAs). The International Waterbird Census database maintained by Wetlands International includes the most complete waterbird-count data available, and information on the protected status of sites is held in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), managed by UNEP–WCMC and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. The Ramsar Sites Information Service provides data on wetlands of international importance.

WOW set out to make all this information accessible in one place. The result, after four years of combined effort, is the Critical Site Network (CSN) Tool, a web portal which provides public access to all the data currently available on waterbird species in the AEWA region and the sites they depend upon, through a single user-friendly interface. The CSN Tool can identify sites where conservation efforts should be prioritised, and help with site management and planning broad-scale interventions. A government conservation agency can quickly locate critical sites beyond its national boundaries, and seek more effective cooperation with other countries along the flyway. Now that the technical problems of linking the databases have been solved, the CSN Tool could be adapted for the management of other flyways.

The flyway concept is still relatively unfamiliar in many parts of the world. In parallel with the CSN Tool, WOW produced a Flyway Training Kit. Available in hard copy or as free PDF downloads, the Kit is divided into three modules: Understanding, Applying, and Communicating the Flyway Approach. The modules are designed to be adapted to local needs, with case studies and species added or changed as appropriate. There are English, French, Arabic and Russian versions.

Many of the 340-plus Neotropical migrant species that breed in North America and winter in Central and South America and the Caribbean are in rapid decline. To date, efforts and resources have been concentrated on conserving breeding habitats in the north. BirdLife in the Americas is working to build national capacity to advance bird conservation throughout the range used by Neotropical migrants, and seeking ways of creating lasting partnerships across national borders. For example, the “Initiative for the Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds in the Tropical Andes” is initiating conservation across a network of 432 IBAs in the tropical Andes, a key region supporting 132 species (39%) of Neotropical migrants.

In total, 513 IBAs in the Americas were “triggered” by their importance for Neotropical migrants. Since 2003, BirdLife has coordinated five projects funded by the US Neotropical Migratory Birds Conservation Act, aimed at identifying and proposing management action for priority IBAs for migrants in the Tropical Andes, Central America and the Caribbean, the Guianas, Argentina and Chile, and the Pampas grasslands of South America.

The Pampas or Southern Cone Grasslands of South America cover an area of one million km2 in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. They are home to around 60 grassland-dependent bird species, 15 of them globally threatened, including the Endangered Marsh Seedeater (Sporophila palustris). Of 135 IBAs identified in these grasslands, 61 are outstanding for the conservation of migratory birds like Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis), Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) and Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus).

But in common with the world’s other great grasslands, conservation of the Pampas has received very little attention. Less than 3% remains untouched, making these grasslands probably the most threatened biome in the region. Traditional, sustainable cattle ranching, which maintained the Pampas in a near-natural state, has been in decline because of competition from intensive feed-lot beef, and much of the grassland has been converted to cropland.

In 2006, four BirdLife Partners—Aves Argentinas, Aves Uruguay, SAVE Brasil and Guyra Paraguay—came together to develop a multi-national initiative for grassland biodiversity conservation in the region. The Alliance has been working with cattle ranchers to establish Standards of Excellence for the Management and Quality of Natural Grasslands Beef in the Southern Cone of South America. One outcome is a “green” certificate that will allow ranchers to tap into the market for environmentally-friendly foods. The Southern Cone initiative works with other BirdLife Partners in the Americas, including the National Audubon Society (BirdLife in the USA) and Pronatura (BirdLife in Mexico).

11. Preventing Extinctions

BirdLife International is the leading authority on the conservation of the world’s birds. Through its Global Species Programme, BirdLife has collated, assessed and published information on the world’s threatened birds for over 40 years. The information is used to focus global conservation efforts and to guide BirdLife’s priorities for action.

In the 2005 paper How many bird extinctions have we prevented?, BirdLife authors found that at least 16 bird species would have gone extinct between 1994 and 2004 were it not for conservation programmes. A later paper found that during this ten-year period, 49 Critically Endangered species benefited from conservation action such that they declined less severely (24 species) or improved in status (25 species).

In total, over the last two decades, 21 species have improved in status sufficiently to qualify for downlisting from Critically Endangered to lower categories of threat on the IUCN Red List, owing to successful conservation action. Many other species are benefiting, but have not yet crossed the threshold to be downlisted.

BirdLife launched a major new initiative, the Preventing Extinctions Programme, in 2004. This is spearheading greater conservation action, awareness and funding support for the world’s most threatened birds, by appointing Species Guardians (to implement the priority actions) and Species Champions (to provide the resources). So far, over 50 Species Guardians have been appointed—the local organisations or individuals best placed to save the world’s most threatened birds.

First ICBP, then BirdLife and its Partners, had been instrumental in conservation efforts for half of the 16 species saved from extinction. For example, the Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Parakeet (Psittacula echo [eques]) benefited from captive breeding and breeding-site management work initiated by ICBP. BirdLife helped plan the expedition that led to the rediscovery of the Pale-headed Brush-finch, and the Birdfair/RSPB Research Fund supported research into its conservation needs. In 1998 Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (MANU, BirdLife in French Polynesia) initiated rat control around all the known nests of the Tahiti Monarch (Pomarea nigra), and by 2004 the population, which had been in rapid decline, was increasing. With the assistance of Cook Islands Partner TIS, Rarotonga Monarch (Pomarea dimidiata) was brought back from a low of 29 individuals in 1989 to 289–300 birds in 2004; again, rat control was the key. The Bali Starling Project initiated by ICBP in 1983 helped maintain the population through captive breeding, but illegal trapping continued, and in 1999 an armed gang stole almost all the 39 captive individuals awaiting release into the wild.

The 16 species represented only 8·9% of the 179 bird classified as Critically Endangered in 2004 (the number has risen to 197 in 2012; it was 168 in 1994). During the same ten years, 164 bird species had deteriorated in status sufficiently to be uplisted to higher categories of extinction risk on the IUCN Red List.

The paper demonstrated that preventing extinctions is possible, given political will, sufficient resources and concerted action. However, the majority of the 16 species are restricted to islands, where invasive species are often the main threat. In recent decades technological advances mean that eradicating invasive species is now a practical conservation option, even on sizeable islands. But more than half (54%) of threatened birds are continental, and preventing extinctions among this suite of species presents a greater challenge.

ICBP and species conservation

In 1973, in addition to the work already begun for threatened species on Cousin Island and elsewhere in the Seychelles, ICBP had begun working with the Mauritius Forestry Service and with other NGOs to improve the fortunes of three Critically Endangered birds: Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus), Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Parakeet. The first Pink Pigeons bred at Black River aviaries, jointly established by ICBP and captive breeding experts from the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (now Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust) in 1977. In 1984, the first pair of Pink Pigeons was released into the wild in the presence of ICBP’s Director General and the conservationist Gerald Durrell.

In 1981, ICBP published a list of world bird conservation priorities, followed by the first ICBP conservation programme, with funding allocated to each project. The programme was dominated by survey and monitoring work to ascertain the conservation status of species and sites. But it also included action on the ground, such as establishing protected areas, removal of invasive alien species, awareness raising, conservation training and captive breeding.

Some projects were small, such as provision of nestboxes for St Lucia Amazon (Amazona versicolor) after a hurricane destroyed nesting trees. But others were on a bigger scale, including island restoration work in the Indian Ocean. In 1984, ICBP jointly sponsored three New Zealand experts in invasive alien species removal to visit Round Island off Mauritius, an important breeding site for at least four breeding seabird species including Vulnerable Trindade Petrel (Pterodroma [a.] arminjoniana). The island was overrun with introduced rabbits. In 1986, with commercial and UK government sponsorship, ICBP carried out a two-year project to exclude rats from the nesting ledges of Madeira (Zino’s) Petrel (Pterodroma madeira) in Madeira, and also located a second breeding colony.

The rediscovery of Gurney’s Pitta (Pitta gurneyi) in 1986 was followed by intensive efforts to save what was then thought to be the site of its last population, in a fragment of lowland forest in Thailand. By now the emphasis was broadening from single-species conservation, and ICBP used Gurney’s Pitta as a flagship for all the lowland-forest specialists in southern Thailand. In addition to ICBP staff providing round the clock surveillance of nests to prevent predation by snakes, ICBP provided funds to Thailand’s Forest Department to set up a guard centre at the main site.

In 1989, fundraising initiated and supported by ICBP resulted in the purchase of 80 ha of rainforest on Dominica for Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) and Red-necked Amazon (A. arausiaca).

Northern Bald Ibis work shows the power of Partnership

The BirdLife Partnership has been working to save the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) since the early 1990s. Formerly widespread across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, this ibis represented a different kind of challenge to the largely island-based single-species work that ICBP/BirdLife had attempted up to then. Its conservation has involved a spreading network of national Partners, and been the entry point for several new members of the BirdLife Partnership

In 1993, the director of the Souss-Massa National Park, Morocco, home of three of the four last breeding colonies of the western sub-population, asked BirdLife to identify the measures needed to conserve the ibis. A research programme developed by the RSPB provided the main technical input to the park’s management plans and the international species action plan. The relationship between BirdLife and Souss-Massa has continued, with Spanish Partner SEO/BirdLife now taking the lead. In 2011, around 100 pairs produced at least 130 fledged young. Long-term funding is now being sought to enable the local wardens, who have been central to the monitoring and protection of the ibises for 15 years, to continue their essential work.

With numbers growing again at Souss-Massa, the discovery of a tiny colony at Palmyra, Syria, in 2002 injected a new urgency into the work for the Northern Bald Ibis. These birds are thought to be the last wild representatives of the genetically distinct eastern sub-population, formerly found throughout the Middle East. BirdLife and its local and international partners have continued to protect and monitor the Palmyra colony and its feeding grounds, and the single breeding pair fledged two young in 2011. A local Species Guardian has been appointed, and a local NGO, the Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (SSCW), is now the BirdLife Affiliate in Syria. Guards and rangers from local communities have been appointed and trained, and local capacity in monitoring and managing the birds and their habitat is being steadily strengthened.

While the Moroccan birds disperse after breeding, the Syrian ibises migrate. There are still gaps in our knowledge of the route that the Syrian birds take, and of the wintering grounds used by juvenile and sub-adult birds, but satellite tracking is helping to provide the answers. Sadly, tracking has also confirmed that the main threat to the eastern population is hunting along the migration route. The birds are monitored across the seven countries they are known to use by national BirdLife organisations including the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society and the Saudi Wildlife Commission.

There is also a semi-captive population of the eastern form at Birecik, Turkey, which is managed by Turkish BirdLife Partner Doga Dernegi. Numbers increased from 112 to 133 in 2011, after 15 pairs fledged 27 young. After breeding, when most of the colony were taken back into captivity, four juveniles were left free to migrate. This was the first step in a long-term project to establish a fully wild population at Birecik. Discussions are under way with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to establish a wildlife reserve to protect the feeding grounds of the Birecik ibises.

BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme

A total of 167 Critically Endangered bird species are now receiving targeted conservation action. BirdLife Partners, alongside other organisations, agencies and governments, are heavily involved in carrying out actions for 51% of these species. At least 117 species are already benefiting from threat reduction, leading to slower population declines, and even population increases.

The Priolo

The last substantial remnant of native forest in the Azores is at the mountainous eastern end of the island of São Miguel. This area is recognised as a Special Protection Area: the Pico da Vara/Ribeira do Guilherme SPA. The native forest is home to the Priolo, or Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina), an endemic passerine quite distinct from its European counterpart, Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). The species appears to have been locally abundant in the nineteenth century, but as the laurel forests disappeared so did the Priolo. The first formal population census made in 1989 suggested a population of around 100 pairs.

The Azores Bullfinch’s diet comprises nearly 40 different plant species. Critically however, at certain times of the year, the bullfinch is entirely dependent on just a few of these. The prevalence of Azorean holly (Ilex azorica) appears to be a significant factor limiting the species’s distribution.

An EU-funded LIFE project coordinated by SPEA, BirdLife in Portugal, successfully restored around 230 ha of laurel forest. Fruit-tree orchards were created at lower altitudes to improve winter food availability and increase the interest of farmers in this alternative livelihood activity. The project had other important socio-economic benefits, providing the equivalent of full-time employment for 25 people annually, while adding an estimated €335,000 to the regional gross domestic product each year.

The removal of exotic plants has resulted in a cascade of positive effects throughout the laurel-forest community. Two years after being cleared, experimental forest plots were found to have 110% more native seeds, and herbivorous insects had increased by 85%. In the experimental plots the density of Azores Bullfinch increased tenfold.

In 2008, a comprehensive census estimated the population at approximately 775 individuals. The species’s range was also found to be greater than previously thought, covering an area of 102 km2. In light of these extremely positive findings, in 2010 the species was downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

Lost but unforgotten

“Perhaps the only real kind of “living dead” and “commitment to extinction” in this world are the products of those accidents when we declare species extinct too soon, sealing them off from further investigation and only realising our mistake when evidence... emerges from some unexpected quarter.” – Dr Nigel Collar, Extinction by assumption; or, the Romeo Error on Cebu, 1998.

2009 was the sixtieth anniversary of a scientific error which left the Cebu Flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor) slipping towards extinction, because it was assumed to be already extinct. It was thanks to a visitor determined not to stick to the well-worn birding circuits that Cebu Flowerpecker was rediscovered, and work to conserve the species belatedly began.

Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the list of Critically Endangered species, but have also witnessed the rediscovery of a number of birds not seen for decades, or even centuries. The last decade has brought new sightings of Braun’s (Orange-breasted) Bush-shrike (Laniarius brauni) in Angola; Madagascar Pochard (Aythya innotata) in northern Madagascar; Rufous-headed (Kaempfer’s) Woodpecker (Celeus spectabilis [obrieni]) and Cone-billed Tanager (Conothraupis mesoleuca) in Brazil; White-masked Antbird (Pithys castaneus) in Peru; Large-billed Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus orinus) in Thailand, Afghanistan and Tajikistan; and Rusty-throated Wren-babbler (Spelaeornis badeigularis) in India. Some, like Cerulean Paradise-flycatcher (Eutrichomyias rowleyi), found again in 1999 in Sangihe, Indonesia, had been presumed extinct. Damar Flycatcher (Ficedula henrici), endemic to a small island in the Banda Sea, eastern Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, had not been recorded since 1898, until in 2001 a BirdLife team found it to be not uncommon.

Most lost species belong to remote areas not often visited by birders and biologists. In one or two cases the “type” locality at which the species was first discovered has never been revisited.

Although many once inaccessible areas have been opened up to scientists and birding tourists, many birders stick to circuits with well-known highlights. The tendency of birders to visit the same popular sites greatly reduces their chances of tracking down missing birds. BirdLife wants birders to venture further afield, into the gaps between tourist lodges and previous surveys, where some of these mysteries will surely be solved.

BirdLife is determined that no more species will slip further towards extinction simply because absence of evidence of their continued survival is allowed to harden into the assumption that they are extinct. Of the 197 species listed as Critically Endangered, there are 45 for which no extant population is known, and therefore no conservation measures can be devised.

The individuals or organisations best placed to find the lost species may also be those best qualified to carry out conservation work for them once they are found. For example, MareqetiViti (Nature Fiji), Species Guardian for Fiji Petrel (Pterodroma [Pseudobulweria] macgillivrayi), which was rediscovered in 1984, is implementing the Fiji Petrel Recovery Plan.

Fiji Petrel was known only from one immature specimen collected in 1855 on Gau Island, until in the mid-1980s grounded birds began to be reported from villages in Gau. In 2009, two expeditions off Gau made the first observations ever of this species at sea; but despite choosing the optimum month, and using “chum”, a pungent mixture of fish offal and fish oil which usually attracts all the petrels in the vicinity, there were only eleven sightings of Fiji Petrels over 22 days. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti and the BirdLife Pacific Secretariat have continued to search for the species at sea using chum.

NatureFiji-MareqetiViti currently employs three full-time staff and many part-time field assistants on the island, all but one of them from Gau. The project has been working with local communities on the island to gather information on threats to Fiji Petrel, search for nests, initiate feral pig control, and care for and release grounded birds.

Fiji Petrels are thought to breed among the large numbers of globally Vulnerable Gould’s (Collared) Petrels (Pterodroma leucoptera [brevipes]) that nest in the rugged interior of Gau, where more than 70 km2 of suitable forest still exists. Collared Petrels may now be confined to Gau as a breeding species, following extirpation from other Fijian islands. They are used as a surrogate for Fiji Petrels when training Gau islanders in petrel handling and measurement, burrow conservation monitoring, and management techniques. Two New Zealand-trained petrel-burrow detector dogs regularly visit the island, and have so far located a number of Collared Petrel burrows.

12. BirdLife’s Local Empowerment Programme

BirdLife’s vision is of “a world rich in biodiversity, with people and nature living in harmony, equitably and sustainably”. By focusing on birds and the sites and habitats they depend on, BirdLife is able both to conserve and restore biodiversity, and to improve the quality of life of the people who share those sites.

BirdLife strongly believes that local people are part of the solution to the biodiversity crisis the world faces. The BirdLife Partnership’s “local-to-global” structure means it is able to bring local voices to the attention of national and international decision-makers. Experience shows the value of linking people and institutions across scales and geography, to share resources, practical knowledge and expertise.

All BirdLife Partners are membership-based, civil-society organisations, working locally through their members and supporters. The relationship is mutually beneficial. National Partners help local people achieve their ambitions, and local stakeholders contribute their knowledge, experience and action to the conservation of globally important sites and species. BirdLife and its Partners have also helped obtain land tenure and political rights for marginalised indigenous peoples, empowering them to continue with traditional practices which help maintain important habitats such as forests, wetlands and grasslands.

Many Partners are supported by networks of volunteers who help protect, manage and monitor sites, enabling conservation work to be carried out and data collected to an extent that would be far beyond the capacity of the Partner’s staff alone.

Every national Partner is involved in awareness-raising, and every project involves an element of environmental education, which helps people understand the importance of sites and species to the ecosystem services they depend on, and take pride in their unique local biodiversity.

Local Conservation Groups

Since the late 1990s, BirdLife and the Partnership have been building a network of grassroots groups, known as Local Conservation Groups (LCGs), at IBAs. The LCG approach has had significant success in empowering civil society and reducing threats to biodiversity.

There are currently over 2000 LCGs at IBAs across the world. The structures, governance, membership and objectives of these groups vary greatly depending on the local context, reflecting the diversity of culture, history, legislation and social norms in different places. This results in appropriate and effective responses that would be very unlikely to be achieved solely through externally managed interventions.

A local approach helps to ensure appropriate application of local knowledge. It builds on the motivation of local stakeholders, enhances prospects of sustainability, increases efficiency and legitimacy, has the potential to reduce conflict, and respects people’s rights.

LCGs often form effective community-based organisations, addressing other issues of concern to the communities they are part of, such as health and basic service provision (water and education). Others have established income-generating activities which depend on the maintenance of healthy ecosystems.

As the number of LCGs in a country grows, it presents opportunities nationally (and sometimes regionally) to work together, combining efforts to address national issues, supporting one another to deal with site-based concerns, and sharing experience, skills, information and resources.

The BirdLife’s Partnership’s Local Empowerment Programme (LEP) aims to provide more effective support for LCGs, and to strengthen and expand LCG networks. The LEP’s vision is that “local organisations at critical sites for biodiversity are empowered to effectively conserve, manage and defend their sites, so that biodiversity values and benefits are provided locally, nationally and globally in the long term”.

There is no single definition of empowerment, but it is basically about facilitating and supporting a process through which people can take control and bring about positive change, for the benefit of the environment and for themselves.

Communities and conservation action

Many local and indigenous communities have been stewards of habitats for centuries, and even under the economic and political pressures of modern times, community forestry and Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas have been shown to be effective.

For example, in the Mount Oku IBA in the Bamenda Highlands of north-west Cameroon, last stronghold of Bannerman’s Turaco (Tauraco bannermani) and Banded Wattle-eye (Platysteira laticincta), both of which are Endangered, community action has led to significant regeneration of forest. Also known as Kilum-Ijim, this forest is very important to people as a source of water, firewood and forest products for food and medicine.

The area around Kilum-Ijim is among the most densely populated in West Africa. In 1992 it was estimated that if rates of clearance continued, the forest would disappear within five years. But by this time conservation efforts were under way. In 1987, BirdLife initiated a project with the 35 communities that surround Kilum-Ijim, to establish agreed forest boundaries, plan for sustainable use of resources, improve agricultural practices and identify alternative sources of income.

The project combined biodiversity conservation with use of the forest for the benefit of the communities. The two sets of interests overlapped, since conservationists and communities both wanted the forest maintained. In practice, the communities often suggested rules that were stronger than the project partners expected. Community participation in forest management took a step forward in 1994, with the Came­roon Government’s Forestry Law, under which local people can manage state forests through agreements with the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry.

Recent studies of forest cover on Mount Oku, using satellite imagery, have revealed strong regeneration since 1988, soon after the project started. From 1995, regeneration has significantly exceeded the rate of deforestation.

Survey work at the San Rafael National Park IBA in Paraguay has established that it is “as important for both avian diversity and threatened species as any other location in South America”. The 405 species recorded so far include 70 Atlantic Forest endemics, and 16 Near Threatened and twelve globally threatened species, including Endangered Black-fronted Piping-guan (Pipile jacutinga) and Vinaceous (-breasted) Amazon (Amazona vinacea).

Although San Rafael was decreed a national park in 1992, the boundaries have still not been legally recognised. The majority of the park is unprotected and suffering encroachment from soybean cultivation and cattle grazing.

BirdLife Partner Guyra Paraguay is working with the La Amistad smallholder settlement, which occupies land removed from the area reserved for conservation. The forest cover of their lands has been reduced by over 50%, mostly for subsistence agriculture. The project pays community members to retain and improve the quality of forest on their land. Payment levels are set to compete with cotton as an alternative land-use. Seventy five per cent of the payment is made to individual landholders, and 25% to actions benefiting the community as a whole. Payments are also made for reforestation, so that community members without natural forest on their land also benefit. The project is working with the Mbyá Guarani, the indigenous people of the San Rafael area, helping them secure broader recognition of their rights. There is potential for significant expansion of the project area if their consent can be obtained.

The forests of Western Siem Pang, northeast Cambodia, are among the last remnants of an ecosystem that once dominated much of southern Indochina and Thailand. Western Siem Pang supports five Critically Endangered birds, including the largest remaining population of White-shouldered Ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), together with Giant Ibis (Pseudibis gigantea) and Indian White-backed (White-rumped), Slender-billed and Red-headed (Sarcogyps calvus) Vultures.

Research by BirdLife International in Indochina has shown that traditional land management is integral to maintaining the ecosystem. Scattered throughout the forests are seasonal pools called trapaengs, a critical habitat for the area’s wildlife. Grazing cattle and buffalo produce clearings in the forest, and their trampling and wallowing creates the marshy depressions which, over generations, deepen into sizeable pools. These domestic herds may fulfil a role historically performed by wild ungulates now lost from the area.

Trapaengs are also central to the lives of local people. They are sources of water and fish, and provide a wealth of non-timber forest products. Since 2006, BirdLife has worked with local communities to improve natural resource management. A network of LCGs has been established, comprising local stakeholders with a common interest in protecting trapaengs. They come from a variety of backgrounds, and in some cases are former hunters. The communities have agreed a Trapaeng Management Protocol, which aims to meet the needs of the community while maintaining the essential ecological functions of the trapaengs.

Landowning clans on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji have established Community-based Protected Areas which will secure the future of their forests and the livelihoods that depend on them. The project was initiated in 2005, after the Natewa Peninsula was identified as the Natewa/Tunuloa IBA. This IBA contains untouched old growth forest, and is home to many endemic bird species.

The majority of the peninsula’s forest has been signed over to logging leases or mahogany plantations. The clans, or mataqali, were under severe pressure from within and outside their communities to sell their remaining forest. Some mataqalis formed LCGs, and have worked with other clans, BirdLife and the government forestry department to ensure that offers from timber companies are rejected.

In 2009, a workshop was held in Navetau village in the Tunuloa district, where eleven mataqalis agreed to manage over 6000 ha of land sustainably for ten years. The project helped the LCGs develop into informal community-based organisations that can initiate further activities independently. Lessons are being shared with other mataqalis at key forest sites, and with conservation NGOs elsewhere in Fiji and the Pacific. Conservationists from Société Calédonienne d’Ornithologie (BirdLife in New Caledonia) and La Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (MANU, BirdLife in French Polynesia) have taken part in community workshops. This initiative is built on Fijian land-ownership and socio-cultural structures, and the process is highly “Pacific” in its approach, which makes it widely applicable in the region. In March 2012 the LCGs at Navetau Tunuloa received the United Nations Development Programme’s Equator prize for their work towards sustainable development.

Livelihoods and rights

More than 60 BirdLife Partners are in low-income countries, where conservation must operate within a sociopolitical climate in which poverty reduction and meeting basic needs are the highest priorities. BirdLife believes there are powerful ethical arguments for integrating conservation with poverty reduction. If people’s needs are understood, sustainable livelihoods linked to well-managed natural-resource use can be developed, securing benefits for human society and biodiversity.

In project after project BirdLife has found that conservation can be more effective if people’s rights are respected. Conservation frequently involves changes in the way natural resources are used and managed. Strict environmental protection can exclude people and deprive them of the resources they depend on, without providing viable alternatives. Adopting a project process which respects people’s rights can help avoid or resolve such situations. The process should give people an opportunity for genuine participation.

The Nyabarongo wetlands IBA in Rwanda supports important populations of Papyrus Yellow Warbler (Chloropeta gracilirostris), Vulnerable, and Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri), Near Threatened. The wetlands were being exploited unsustainably, leading to environmental degradation and increased poverty. Working with the local community, the Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR), BirdLife in Rwanda, supported the development of a local cooperative, CEDINYA.

The cooperative, which includes all the wetland users from the local communities, sets sustainable targets for harvesting of wetland resources. Members have been trained to rotate their harvesting plots, allowing the papyrus to regenerate. The project trained 45 men and 55 women to produce handicrafts including baskets from papyrus and other wetland materials. With the support of ACNR, which lobbied local government and other agencies, the cooperative was able to expand its markets to include handicraft shops in the city of Kigali. Using the income from these sales, cooperative members obtained loans to invest in other livelihood improvements, such as school fees, health insurance and better agriculture. Women and children spend much less time gathering fuel wood, and children have been able to attend school more regularly. The success of the project is encouraging people from the wider community to join the cooperative.

The BirdLife Partnership in the Middle East is reviving the hima, a traditional system under which communities manage natural areas such as woodlands, grasslands and wetlands, and protect them from over-exploitation. A feature of the system is its flexibility, with regulations, management and responsibilities determined locally according to local needs. The hima system allows a mixture of strict protection and sustainable use, and in many places has supported the preservation of biodiversity that has been lost from the wider landscape. So far, six IBAs have been declared as himas in Lebanon. Traditional himas already exist in Saudi Arabia and Oman, and more have been proposed recently in Syria and Yemen.

The hima revival is led by the Society for Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL; BirdLife Partner) as a part of their IBA programme. SPNL is finding that, with its roots in traditional practice and Islamic law, and its recognition of the rights of local people, the hima is more acceptable and effective than centralised protected-area systems. A donation from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Hamad Bin Sahim Al-Thani of Qatar allowed a fund to be set up to manage IBAs as himas. The BirdLife Middle East Partnership is promoting and implementing the concept throughout the Middle East. Applications are invited both from BirdLife Partners and others willing to work collaboratively with BirdLife. In time, the hima revival may be extended to other parts of the world where it was once in use, including North Africa and Central Asia.

Volunteer conservationists and citizen scientists

Volunteers are the life-blood of conservation organisations. Across the BirdLife Partnership, they multiply by many times the amount of work that staff could undertake alone. The RSPB has at least nine volunteers for every member of staff, while Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) calculate their network of volunteers contributes 864,000 hours each year. Volunteers are involved in a range of activities, from hands-on site management to fundraising and research.

For BirdLife Malta, volunteers are crucial to efforts to halt illegal hunting of migratory birds. BirdLife Australia’s Threatened Bird Network has over 5000 registered volunteers assisting in the recovery of species like Greater (Australian) Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis [australis]), Short-billed (Carnaby’s) Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), both Endangered, and Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera [Xanthomyza] phrygia), now Critically Endangered.

Around the world hundreds of thousands of people contribute their time and data to citizen science projects, providing a wealth of information on breeding and non-breeding bird distribution, migration, ecology and behaviour for BirdLife Partners to use for site/species monitoring and protection.

For example, The Atlas of Southern African Birds involved 7·3 million records collected by 5000 observers. In Spain, 1200 volunteers and a network of volunteer coordinators invested 30,000 hours in fieldwork for SEO/BirdLife’s Atlas of Wintering Birds in Spain. In North America, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count has been held annually since 1900, making it the longest running citizen science survey in the world.

With the spread of the internet, it has become much easier for people to get involved in citizen science. BirdLife’s WorldBirds project brings together data collection and reporting systems from many countries. Currently around 160 countries contribute. WorldBirds is used not only to compile bird watching data, but also to record data collected during formal surveys.

Projects with a large element of volunteer participation include Common Bird Monitoring in Poland, waterfowl counts in Kenya, and migration studies across the Americas. Many observers start as amateurs and develop into highly valued recorders.

The Danish IBA Caretaker Project has built a network of skilled observers to help conserve the country’s IBAs. The Caretakers are Dansk Ornitologisk Forening’s (DOF; BirdLife in Denmark) most important resource and source of local knowledge. Information from the Caretaker network has been key in the designation of Danish IBAs as Special Protection Areas.

In Nepal, BirdLife Partner Bird Conservation Nepal, with technical support from the RSPB, is training forest users in biodiversity monitoring. This approach harnesses indigenous knowledge and helps build conservation capacity within local communities. The project has demonstrated that highly reliable forest assessments can be implemented by local resource users.

13. Climate Change

Changes in climate have already adversely affected biodiversity at the species and ecosystem level—and current levels of climate change are modest compared to most projections. Plant and animal ranges are shifting poleward and upward, and studies suggest many species will not be able to keep up with their changing climate space.

Adapting to a changed climate requires evolutionary change, which can take a very long time. Rapid climate change such as we are currently witnessing could mean that many species fail to adapt and face starvation and breeding failure. One global study estimates that each degree of warming could drive another 100–500 bird species extinct. Temperature rises beyond 2°C are predicted to lead to catastrophic extinction rates, with few practical conservation options left.

In 2008, A Climatic Atlas of European breeding birds was published by a partnership between Durham University, the RSPB and Lynx Edicions, in association with the University of Cambridge, BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council. The atlas used climate envelope modelling to predict that without vigorous and immediate action against climate change, the potential future distribution of the average European bird species will shift by nearly 550 km north-east by the end of this century, will decrease in size by a fifth, and will overlap the current range by only 40%.

BirdLife is collaborating with the IUCN to develop a Vulnerability Assessment Framework to identify species most at risk from climate change. The species at the greatest risk include those with low adaptive capacity, or distributions that are likely to be exposed to considerable climatic change. A preliminary analysis of the world’s birds suggests up to 35% have characteristics that render them particularly susceptible. Of these, 72% are not currently considered threatened. Most birds that are already threatened are also climate-change susceptible. Certain taxonomic groups are particularly sensitive, including seabirds and Neotropical forest-dependent passerines.

The loss of species makes our world poorer, and but also contributes to weakening the ecosystems on which we ultimately depend. Biodiversity and climate change are closely interlinked: many habitats like forests and wetlands are important carbon sinks. Only diverse and healthy ecosystems can provide the essential services that people, animals and plants need to survive the expected environmental changes. Nature can protect us against extreme weather events, like floods, drought or erosion, if we do our part to conserve it.

Climate change clearly poses new challenges to BirdLife’s main approaches to conserving species, IBAs and habitats. The BirdLife Partnership has pulled together scientific information, policy analysis and practical experience, and developed a shared position and programme of work to combat climate change. Its overall message is very simple: climate change is global in its causes and consequences, and potentially disastrous for life on Earth; we must act together and act now to mitigate and adapt to it.

Climate change and IBAs

Safeguarding the existing network of IBAs, in conjunction with adaptation measures and the identification of additional sites, will play a key role in mitigating the worst impacts of climate change on birds.

Although many African IBAs are likely to experience high species turnover as a consequence of climate change, persistence of suitable climate space across the IBA network as a whole is remarkably high: 88–92% of priority species are projected to retain suitable climate in one or more IBAs in which they are currently found, and only 6–8 species are projected to lose all suitable climate space from the IBA network by the end of the century. While some IBAs may lose many or all of the species for which they were identified, they will become important for other priority species.

These findings could assist in developing a management framework for IBAs in the region to combat climate change, and can inform general principles and guidelines for adaptive management strategies. The most common management prescriptions will be to continue to provide appropriate conditions for those species for which the sites were originally designated. They will, however, also need to maintain, for as long as possible, suitable conditions for those species predicted to emigrate, while simultaneously providing sufficient habitat for the high number of projected colonists. Achieving these potentially conflicting goals may necessitate the expansion of some IBAs into adjacent areas of natural or semi-natural habitat.

Mitigation and adaptation

BirdLife is calling for the importance of healthy ecosystems to be written into national, regional and international climate change and development policy. Healthy, biodiverse environments play a vital role in maintaining and increasing resilience to climate change, and reducing risk and vulnerability. This is particularly critical to the world’s 2·7 billion poor people, many of whom depend on natural resources directly for their livelihoods and survival.

BirdLife believes that including the role of ecosystems in approaches to adaptation can provide many benefits. They are accessible to rural and poor communities, and can be locally managed and maintained. They balance immediate needs with preparation for long-term impacts, providing alternative livelihood options in the face of climate change uncertainty. They combine indigenous and local knowledge with external expertise. They contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to climate change mitigation by maintaining carbon storage.

Sea-level rise is likely to have a dramatic impact on low-lying coastal and intertidal habitats, causing widespread flooding and accelerated coastal erosion. Many coastal habitats are prevented from migrating inland by natural or man-made barriers. This “coastal squeeze” could result in the loss of mudflats and marshes, which are critical for wildfowl and wader species. Rising sea levels, combined with more frequent and intense storm surges, will prove catastrophic to shore-nesting birds such as terns.

Small islands, reefs and atolls are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise. Populations of some species already regarded as Critically Endangered, such as Tuamotu Kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri), are entirely restricted to low-lying islands. Loss of coastal ecosystems would also have profound implications for neighbouring human communities. Coastal habitats, such as mangroves, provide many vital services. They act as nurseries for pelagic fish, are a source of food and fuel, and act as barriers against tidal surges and flooding. Ten per cent of the world’s population lives in coastal regions less than 10 m above present sea level, so action is needed to safeguard low-lying coastal ecosystems against sea-level rise not just for wildlife, but also for human societies.

Mangrove forest conservation is a cost-effective and affordable long-term strategy to defend coastal communities against the impacts of climate change. Around the world, BirdLife and its Partners are working with local communities to protect and restore mangroves. The Upper Bay of Panama is one of the most important areas for migratory shorebirds in the Americas. Panama Audubon Society (BirdLife Partner) has provided wetland management training to Local Conservation Groups in the area. Mangrove restoration, as part of an integrated coastal management plan, has contributed to local poverty alleviation by improving fish, molluscs and other mangrove forest resources.

With 74% of its people and infrastructure in low-lying coastal areas, Samoa is likely to be severely impacted by sea-level rise. O le Si’osi’omaga Society Incorporated (BirdLife in Samoa) is working with the Matafaa indigenous village community to conserve their coastal mangroves. This will help protect the island’s agricultural land from cyclone and tsunami-related flooding and erosion, and enhance benefits from existing natural resources such as herbal medicines (the primary form of health care), fuel and fibre, fish, and associated biodiversity.

The islands and atolls of Palau, in the west Pacific, are also vulnerable to climate change impacts. Palau Conservation Society (BirdLife Partner) is coordinating an ecosystem approach, addressing coastal erosion on Babeldaob, Palau’s largest island and the location of three IBAs. By assisting the formation of community alliances such as the Babeldaob Watershed Alliance, Palau Conservation Society has raised awareness of the importance of ecosystems and adaptation in land-use planning.

The impact of climate change will be especially severe in low-lying regions such as the Netherlands. Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in the Netherlands) is helping to restore wetland habitats as part of a coherent nationwide conservation strategy. By establishing a natural “climate buffer” the project will conserve wetland habitat for important populations of birds as well as helping soften the impacts of climate change.

As a result of climate change, Caribbean hurricanes are predicted to become more severe. Such events have already caused much damage and loss of life in Haiti, especially where the degradation of watersheds has resulted in flash flooding and mudslides down denuded hillsides. BirdLife and Haiti Audubon Society are working with local communities in the buffer zone of the Macaya Biosphere Reserve (in south-western Haiti) to conserve and reforest the areas around the primary water sources with native plant species. This stabilises the slopes and ensures continued supplies of drinking water.

14. Conclusion: A Partnership of Hope

Climate change means that BirdLife in the twenty-first century is confronted by a different and far more complex array of conservation challenges as compared to those that faced its predecessor, ICBP, 90 years ago. For example, networks of protected areas remain our single most valuable resource for conserving global biodiversity. But from before the establishment of ICBP until the first decade of the twenty-first century, they have generally been established on a static, present-day snapshot of species patterns. This greatly increases their susceptibility to anthropogenic drivers of global change, and climate change in particular represents a key potential threat to their future effectiveness.

Climate change will affect the work of all BirdLife’s Partners, and all BirdLife’s global programmes—IBAs, Preventing Extinctions, Seabirds, Flyways, Forests and Local Empowerment—requiring ever more agile responses to dynamically changing circumstances. Perhaps the greatest conservation challenge we face is to facilitate the movement of species across the wider landscape, while ensuring the continued viability of individual protected areas.

Over the next ten years, BirdLife intends to put a halt to bird extinctions and remove even more species from The IUCN Red List of globally threatened species. But it would be impossible to conserve all the at-risk species in the world individually. To make the job feasible and practical, the BirdLife Partnership has identified 12,000 Important Bird Areas worldwide that are crucial for all the world’s threatened, endemic, biome-restricted and congregatory species of birds. Because IBAs are also important for other species, saving all these sites will offer a future to the majority of the world’s birds and other biodiversity. BirdLife Partners have convinced governments and international organisations to acknowledge the importance of IBAs as a significant natural resource. Unfortunately, only about 40% of IBAs have so far received any form of protection, so BirdLife is working to secure the future of every one of the world’s IBAs.

The BirdLife Partnership can count on more than 2000 local groups which actively monitor and conserve “their” IBAs. They are BirdLife’s eyes and ears on the ground, watchdogs of the state of IBAs, and passionate campaigners for their protection. Over the next ten years, BirdLife and its Partners want to establish Local Conservation Groups at each of the 12,000 IBAs.

BirdLife has classified over 200 of the 2000-plus species of migratory birds as threatened or Near Threatened because of the hazards they face on their long flights. These threats come from habitat degradation, destruction of vital stopover sites, illegal hunting, and collisions with tall barriers like wind farms. BirdLife has been successful in reducing illegal hunting in many countries, fought detrimental infrastructure plans, and protected millions of hectares of crucial habitats. The Partnership will expand this work, supporting and cooperating with governments and developers, and when necessary putting pressure on them, to protect the network of critical sites where birds rest and refuel, and so keep the world’s flyways safe.

Hundreds of thousands of seabirds in every part of the globe are inadvertently slaughtered by industrial fishing every year. BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme has already devised simple and effective practices for industrial fisheries to use to minimise seabird bycatch. In the seven countries where the programme currently operates, these mitigation measures have proved highly effective, and seabird deaths have been reduced by 80–100%. BirdLife’s goal over the next ten years is to extend the use of these mitigation measures to all the world’s fisheries.

Eighty per cent of the unique forests of the Philippines and Madagascar have been already lost, and the mighty forests of continental Asia, the Americas and central Africa are under increasing pressure. Without protection, deforestation in the tropics will cause more environmental damage for the whole planet by significantly contributing to climate change. It already accounts for 15–20% of human-induced carbon emissions, greater than the emissions from all fossil-fuelled forms of transportation. The BirdLife Partnership has successfully protected many forests, and identified other crucially important and threatened tropical forests around the world that it hopes to manage and restore. The lessons learned in the Harapan Rainforest in Indonesia will be shared widely to influence national and global policy, and provide a model for other countries to follow. But without an immediate infusion of money, this work will be too slow to keep up with the rate of tropical deforestation. BirdLife’s goal is to raise sufficient funding over the next ten years to replicate the Harapan Rainforest model globally for the benefit of nature and people.

Operating in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide, with over 2·7 million members, 10 million supporters and more than one million hectares owned or managed, BirdLife International has a significant contribution to make solving the global biodiversity crisis. We know that the efforts we make now to improve the resilience of species, and habitats and the human communities that depend on them, will help them adapt to the environmental changes they face, now and in the future. We recognise that a wide range of conservation responses will be required, and that these will differ across the world, but we strongly believe that the BirdLife Partnership, with its openness to local and indigenous expertise within a global framework of best practice based on sound science, is ideally placed to deliver them.


Nick Langley


The author was supported by a number of people. There was a core editorial team comprising the author, Ade Long and Martin Fowlie. Ade Long coordinated the input of contributions and carried out material research and editing, and Martin Fowlie led on the picture and graphical content. The text was reviewed by BirdLife Council members Werner Müller, Alberto Yanosky, Josep del Hoyo, BirdLife International CEO Marco Lambertini, and BirdLife International’s Chairman Peter Schei. Parts of the text were checked by Roger Safford, Ben Lascelles and Carolina Hazin. Rory McCann reviewed ICBP Bulletins. Werner Müller helped with picture research. Gina Pfaff helped with picture scanning and references. Tris Allinson, Willow Outhwaite and Ian May made the graphics and maps. Gilly Banks helped with compiling BirdLife Partner data for the maps. Judith Rumgay and Shaun Hurrell carried out proof reading. The editorial team would like to thank Nigel Collar for access to unpublished materials.

Further reading

Conservation Leadership

Conservation Leadership Programme (2012). The Conservation Leadership Programme. URL: http://www.ConservationLeadershipProgramme.org (download 18 July 2012).

From Red Data Books to Red List Indices

Brooke, M. de L., Butchart, S.H.M., Garnett, S.T., Crowley, G.M., Mantilla-Beniers, N.B. & Stattersfield, A.J. (2008). Rates of movement of threatened bird species between IUCN Red List categories and toward extinction. Conserv. Biol. 22(2): 417–427.

Burfield, I. & van Bommel, F. eds. (2004). Birds in Europe: Population Estimates, Trends and Conservation Status. BirdLife Conservation Series 12. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Butchart, S.H.M. & Stattersfield, A.J. eds. (2004). Threatened Birds of the World 2004. CD-ROM. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Butchart, S.H.M. & Vie, J.C. (2006). The Red List Index: measuring trends in the threat status of biodiversity. In: Anon. (2005). Proceedings of the International Conference Biodiversity, Science and Governance, Paris January 24–28, 2005. CD-ROM. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

Butchart, S.H.M., Stattersfield, A.J., Bennun, L.A., Shutes, S.M., Akçakaya, H.R., Baillie, J.E.M., Stuart, S.N., Hilton-Taylor, C. & Mace, G.M. (2004). Measuring global trends in the status of biodiversity: Red List indices for birds. PLoS Biol. 2(12): 2294–2304.

Collar, N.J. (1996). The reasons for Red Data Books. Oryx 30: 121–130.

Collar, N.J. & Andrew, P. (1988). Birds to Watch: The ICBP World Checklist of Threatened Birds. ICBP Technical Publication 8. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J. & Stuart, S.N. (1985). Threatened Birds of Africa and Related Islands. The ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. Part 1. 3rd edition. International Council for Bird Preservation & International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J. & Stuart, S.N. (1988). Key Forests for Threatened Birds in Africa. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J., Andreev, A.V., Chan, S., Crosby, M.J., Subramanya, S. & Tobias, J.A. eds. (2001). Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Parts A & B. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J. & Stattersfield, A.J. (1994). Birds to Watch 2: the World List of Threatened Birds. BirdLife Conservation Series 4. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Collar, N.J., Gonzaga, L.P., Krabbe, N., Madrono-Nieto, A., Naranjo, L.G., Parker, T.A. & Wege, D.C. (1992). Threatened Birds of the Americas – the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. Part 2. 3rd edition. International Council for Bird Preservation & International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, UK.

Stattersfield, A.J. & Capper, D.R. eds. (2000). Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions & BirdLife International, Barcelona & Cambridge.

Wege, D.C. & Long, A.J. (1995). Key Areas for Threatened Birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife Conservation Series 5. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Important Bird Areas

Arinaitwe, J.A., Ngeh, P.C. & Thompson, H.S. (2007). The contribution of the Important Bird Areas programme to the conservation of birds in Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 139–143.

Bennun, L. (2003). Monitoring Important Bird Areas in Africa: a Regional Framework. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Bennun, L., Burfield, I., Fishpool, L., Nagy, S. & Stattersfield, A.J. eds. (2006). Monitoring Important Bird Areas – a Global Framework. Version 1.2. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/userfiles/file/IBAs/MonitoringPDFs/IBA_... (download 18 July 2012).

Bennun, L., Matiku, P., Mulwa, R., Mwangi, S. & Buckley, P. (2005). Monitoring Important Bird Areas in Africa: towards a sustainable and scaleable system. Biodiversity & Conservation 14: 2575–2590.

Bibby, C.J., Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J., Heath, M.F., Imboden, C., Johnson, T.H., Long, A.J., Stattersfield, A.J. & Thirgood, S.J. (1992). Putting Biodiversity on the Map. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2004). Monitoring Important Bird Areas in Africa. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/273 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2004). Important Bird Areas are also important for other terrestrial vertebrates in East Africa. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/89 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Many IBAs are recognised under global or regional conventions, but many remain neglected. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/202 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Forest IBAs are effective at capturing a large proportion of other forest biodiversity in Uganda. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/90 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). The IBA network in Uganda is effective at capturing butterflies, dragonflies and some plants. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/91 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). In Timor-Leste, in 2007, three IBAs were linked and protected as the first National Park. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/249 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). In Kenya, IBA monitoring shows the value of formal protection for biodiversity conservation. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/247 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). IBA monitoring can identify deficiencies in national biodiversity policy. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/419 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Important Bird Areas can help inform an ecologically representative network of protected areas. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/236 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Important Bird Areas (IBAs). URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/sites/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Sites - Important Bird Areas (IBAs). URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/site (download 18 July 2012).

Brooks, T., Balmford, A., Burgess, N., Hansen, L.A., Moore, J., Rahbek, C., Williams, P., Bennun, L., Byaruhanga, A., Kasoma, P., Njoroge, P., Pomeroy, D. & Wondafrash, M. (2001). Conservation priorities for birds and biodiversity: do East African Important Bird Areas represent species diversity in other terrestrial vertebrate groups? Ostrich (Suppl.) 15: 3–12.

Butchart, S.H.M., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Evans, M.I., and 40 other authors (2010). Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets. PLoS One 7(3): e32529.

Fishpool, L.D.C., Bennun, L., Arinaitwe, J., Burfield, I., Clay, R., Evans, M.I., Heath, M.F., Gammell, A.B. & Grimmett, R.F. (2012). Important Bird Areas: BirdLife International’s approach to site-based conservation. Bird Conservation International, Cambridge, UK. MS.

Hole, D.G., Huntley, B., Pain, D.J., Fishpool, L.D.C., Butchart, S.H.M., Collingham, Y.C., Rahbek, C. & Willis, S.G. (2009). Projected impacts of climate change on a continental-scale protected area network. Ecol. Letters 12: 420–431.

Lascelles, B. ed. (2010). Marine IBA Toolkit: Standardised Techniques for Identifying Priority Sites for the Conservation of Seabirds At-sea. Version 1.2. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Nature Kenya (2012). Kenya’s Important Bird Areas: status and trends. Annual reports. URL: www.naturekenya.org/Monitoring (download 18 July 2012).

Nature Uganda (2010). Monitoring of Uganda’s Important Bird Areas – Training Manual. Series 4. Nature Uganda & BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.natureuganda.org/downloads/IBA%20Training%20Manual.pdf (download 20 July 2012).

Stattersfield, A.J., Crosby, M.J., Long, A.J. & Wege, D.C. (1998). Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Important Bird Area inventories

BirdLife International (2012). Important Bird Area inventories. Regional inventories. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/ibainventories (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife policy, environmental legislation and international conventions

BirdLife International (2007). BirdLife International Policy and Advocacy Programme: a Review of Partner’s Engagement in Policy Sectors and Use of National Liaison Committees and Frameworks as a Tool to Achieve Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2010). Implementation support for the Convention on Biological Diversity. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/CBDsupport (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2010). Spotlight on birds as indicators. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/indicators (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2010). In the European Union there has been slow but significant progress in the legal recognition of IBAs. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/244 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Biodiversity and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/cbd/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). CITES and the wild bird trade. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/cites/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Migratory birds and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/cms/ (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Drylands and the United Nations Convention to combat desertification (UNCCD). URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/desertification/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). BirdLife Europe’s policy publications. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/eu/EU_policy/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Birds directive – species protection. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/eu/EU_policy/Birds_Habitats_Directives/Birds_Dir... (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Wetlands and the Ramsar Convention. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/change/ramsar/ (download 18 July 2012).

Donald, P.F., Green, R.E. & Heath, M.F. (2001). Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird populations. Proc. Royal Soc. London (Ser. B Biol. Sci.) 268: 25–29.

European Bird Census Council (2001). Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS). URL: http://www.ebcc.info/pecbm.html (download 20 July 2012).

Mwangi, M.A.K. (2007). BirdLife International Policy and Advocacy Programme: an Evaluation of BirdLife Partner’s Work on Policy Sectors. Internal Report. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Sanderson, F.J., Donald, P.F. & Burfield, I.J. (2006). Farmland birds in Europe: from policy change to population decline and back again. Pp. 209–234 in: Bota, G., Camprodon, J., Mañosa, S. & Morales, M.B. eds. (2006). Ecology and Conservation of Steppe-land Birds. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.


BirdLife International (2012). Support a BirdLife campaign. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Think pink - save Africa’s flamingos. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/lake_natron_flamingos/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). BirdLife position statement on Tana. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/tana_delta/ (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). BirdLife’s vision on the CAP “New challenges, new CAP”. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/farming_for_life/campaign.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). European IBA campaign centre. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/iba_campaign/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). What can be done? URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/species/asia_vulture_crisis/solut... (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). What are biofuels? Are all forms of biofuels good? URL: http://www.birdlife.org/eu/EU_policy/Biofuels/eu_biofuels.html (download 18 July 2012).

Mortimer, N.D. (2011). Life Cycle Assessment of Refined Vegetable Oil and Biodiesel from Jatropha Grown in Dakatcha Woodlands of Kenya. North Energy Associates Limited, Stocksfield, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.actionaid.org.uk/doc_lib/kenyan_jatropha_final_report.pdf (download 20 July 2012).

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (2011). Biofuels for transport. URL: http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/policy/climatechange/action/ukenergy/bioe... (download 20 July 2012).

Forests of Hope

Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Management Team (2002). Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Kenya – Strategic Forest Management Plan 2002–2027. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/ground/arabuko/arabuko_sokoke_plan.pdf (download 18 July 2012).

Aratrakorn, S., Thunhikorn, S. & Donald, P.F. (2006). Changes in bird communities following conversion of lowland forest to oil palm and rubber plantations in southern Thailand. Bird Conserv. Int. 16: 71–82.

BirdLife International (2008). Many forest birds cannot survive in oil palm and rubber plantations. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/138 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Community conservation action is showing success on Mount Oku, Cameroon. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/253 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Tsitongambarika Forest, Madagascar. Biological and Socio-economic Surveys, with Conservation Recommendations. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2011). Political will saves important tropical forests in Sierra Leone and Indonesia. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/200 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Birds occur in all major habitat types, with forest being particularly important. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/172 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Forests of hope. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/forests/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Arabuko-Sokoke forest management and conservation project, Kenya. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/ground/arabuko/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Kilum-Ijim Forest project, Cameroon. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/ground/bamenda/bamenda3.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Serra das Lontras Atlantic Forest project, Bahia, Brazil. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/ground/bahia/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

Esquivel, A., Velásquez, M.C., Bodrati, A., Fraga, R., del Castillo, H., Klavins, J., Clay, R.P. & Peris, S.J. (2007). Status of the avifauna of San Rafael National Park, one of the last large fragments of Atlantic forest in Paraguay. Bird Conserv. Int. 17: 301–317.

Gola Rainforest National Park (2012). Sierra Leone’s green diamond! URL: http://www.golarain­forest.org (download 18 July 2012).

Gonzaga, L.P., Pacheco, J.F., Bauer, C. & Castiglioni, G.D.A. (1995). An avifaunal survey of the vanishing montane Atlantic forest of southern Bahia, Brazil. Bird Conserv. Int. 5: 279–290.

Harapan Rainforest (2012). Welcome to Harapan Rainforest. URL: http://harapanrainforest.org/ (download 18 July 2012).

Huang Chengquan, Kim Sunghee, Altstatt, A., Townshend, J.R.G., Davis, P., Song, K., Tucker, C.J., Rodas, O., Yanosky, A., Clay, R. & Musinsky, J. (2007). Rapid loss of Paraguay’s Atlantic forest and the status of protected areas – a Landsat assessment. Remote Sens. Environ. 106(4): 460–466.

Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (2012). GIS Unit – Mount Oku and Ijim Ridge (Cameroon). URL: http://www.kew.org/science-research-data/kew-in-depth/gis/vegetation-map... (download 18 July 2012).

Nature Uganda (2011). The Economic Valuation of the Proposed Degazettement of Mabira Central Forest Reserve. Nature Uganda, Kampala. Available from: URL: http://natureuganda.org/downloads/Mabira/mabira%20degazettement%20report... (download 18 July 2012).

Global Seabird Programme

BirdLife International (2004). Tracking Ocean Wanderers: the Global Distribution of Albatrosses and Petrels. Results from the Global Procellariform Tracking Workshop. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2008). Important Bird Areas for the marine environment are being identified in many regions. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/82 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Birds in some families, notably seabirds, have deteriorated in status faster than others. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/122 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). The southern oceans are important for threatened seabirds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/111 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Longline fishing effort overlaps with foraging hotspots for seabirds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/166 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Native birds on Gough Island are being devastated by house mice. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/175 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Working with regional fisheries management organisations reduces albatross declines. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/199 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Simple changes to fishing methods can get seabirds off the hook. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/263 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Global Seabird Programme. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/species/seabirds/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Global agreements – seabirds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/seabirds/seabird-agreements.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Save the albatross. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/seabirds/save-the albatross.html#BirdLifes_Albatross_Task_Force (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Global Seabird Programme. Saving Seas for Seabirds. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/species/seabirds/seabird_calling_... (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Seabird bycatch mitigation factsheets. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/seabirds/bycatch/albatross.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Eradicating introduced mammals from Clipperton Island led to dramatic recovery of seabirds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/261 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). The Albatross Task Force is bridging the gap between conservationists and fishermen. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/264 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Restoring island ecosystems by eradicating invasive alien species. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/446 (download 18 July 2012).

Croxall, J.P., Evans, P.G.H. & Schreiber, R.W. eds. (1983). Status and Conservation of the World’s Seabirds. ICBP Technical Publication 2. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.

Croxall, J.P., Butchart S.H.M., Lascelles, B., Stattersfield A.J., Sullivan, B., Symes, A. & Taylor, P. (2012). Seabird conservation status, threats and priority actions: a global assessment. Bird Conserv. Int. 22: 1–34.

Cuthbert, R.J. & Hilton, G. (2004). Introduced house mice Mus musculus: a significant predator of endangered and endemic birds on Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean? Biol. Conserv. 117: 471–481.

Dunn, E. (2007). The Case for a Community Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries. A Report from BirdLife International’s Global Seabird Programme. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Howgate, E. & Lascelles, B. (2007). Candidate marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs): global status and progress. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Unpubl.

Lascelles, B. (2008). The BirdLife seabird foraging radii database user guide. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Unpubl.

Nettleship, D.N., Burger, J. & Gochfeld, M. (1994). Seabirds on Islands: Threats, Case Studies and Action Plans. BirdLife Conservation Series 1. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Small, C.J. (2005). Regional Fisheries Management Organisations: their Duties and Performance in Reducing Bycatch of Albatrosses and other Species. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Flyways and Migratory Birds

BirdLife International (2008). Migrating birds know no boundaries. URL: http:/www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/73 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). A network of critical sites for migratory waterbirds is being identified across Africa and Eurasia. URL: http:/www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/101 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Palearctic-African migratory birds have suffered substantial declines. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/66 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). North American monitoring schemes are revealing declines in migratory species. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/65 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2010). The flyways concept can help coordinate global efforts to conserve migratory birds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/20 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2010). The Bar-tailed Godwit undertakes one of the avian world’s most extraordinary migratory journeys. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/22 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2010). Stable isotope analysis reveals the wintering grounds of the Aquatic Warbler. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/24 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). BirdLife’s Flyways Programme. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/flyways/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

Kirby, J.S., Stattersfield, A.J., Butchart, S.H.M., Evans, M.I., Grimmett, R.F.A., Jones, V.R., O’Sullivan, J., Tucker, G.M. & Newton, I. (2008). Key conservation issues for migratory land and waterbird species on the world’s major flyways. Bird Conserv. Int. 18: S74–S90.

National Audubon Society (2011). Atlantic Flyway. National Audubon Society, New York. Available from: URL: http://www.audubon.org/sites/default/files/documents/ar2011-flywayconser... (download 21 July 2012).

National Audubon Society (2012). Mississippi flyways. URL: http://conservation.audubon.org/programs/mississippi-flyways (download 18 July 2012).

National Audubon Society (2012). Atlantic flyway. URL: http://conservation.audubon.org/atlantic-flyway (download 18 July 2012).

Sanderson, F.J., Donald, P.F., Pain, D.J., Burfield, I.J. & van Bommel, F.P.J. (2006). Long-term population declines in Afro-Palearctic migrant birds. Biol. Conserv. 131: 93–105.

Wetlands International & World Conservation Monitoring Centre (2010). The critical site network (CSN) tool. URL: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/criticalsitenetworktool_564.html (download 21 July 2012).

Wings over Wetlands (2012). Flyway training kit. URL: http://wow.wetlands.org/capacitybuilding/flywaytrainingprogramme/wowtrai... (download 18 July 2012).

Wings over Wetlands (2012). The Wings over Wetlands (WOW) Project. URL: http://www.wingsover­wetlands.org/ (download 18 July 2012).

Preventing Extinctions

BirdLife International (2004). Most threatened birds are deteriorating in status. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/67 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Critically Endangered Birds: a Global Audit. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International (2012). Welcome to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/extinction/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Species guardian action updates. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/extinction/updates.html (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). One in eight of all bird species is threatened with global extinction. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/106 (download 18 July 2012).

Butchart, S.H.M. (2007). Birds to find: a review of ‘lost’, obscure and poorly known African bird species. Bull. Afr. Bird Club 14: 139–157.

Butchart, S.H.M. & Bird, J. (2009). Data Deficient birds on the IUCN Red List: what don’t we know and why does it matter? Biol. Conserv. 143: 239–247.

Butchart, S.H.M., Stattersfield, A.J. & Collar, N.J. (2006). How many bird extinctions have we prevented? Oryx 40(3): 266–279.

Butchart, S.H.M., Walpole, M., Collen, B., and 43 other authors (2010). Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328(5982): 1164–1168.

Local Empowerment

BirdLife International (2007). The BirdLife International Partnership: Conserving Biodiversity, Improving Livelihoods. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2007/06/people_and_biodiversity.pdf (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Citizen scientists help push conservation forwards. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/276 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Empowering local communities can lead to better natural resource management. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/427 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Local communities around Phulchoki Important Bird Area in Nepal benefit from tourism. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/433 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). In Denmark, voluntary ‘Caretaker’ groups have been instrumental in the designation of SPAs. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/434 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Around the world volunteers underpin much of BirdLife’s work. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/417 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2011). Organised local citizens are a significant force for nature. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/429 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Community – talking together for birds and people. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/community/tag/lep-report/ (download 18 July 2012).

Butcher, G.S. & Niven, D.K. (2007). Combining Data from the Christmas Bird Count and the Breeding Bird Survey to Determine the Continental Status and Trends of North American Birds. National Audubon Society, Ivyland, Pennsylvania.

Langley, N. & Thomas, D. (2010). Partners for Sustainability. What BirdLife is Doing for People and the Planet. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/downloads/nagoya/birdlife-report-partners-for-su... (download 18 July 2012).

Mwangi Ngari, S. ed. (2010). The BirdLife International Africa Partnership: Conserving Biodiversity in Africa: Guidelines for Applying the Site Support Group Approach. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2007/03/EnglishDOC.pdf (download 21 July 2012).

Thomas, D. ed. (2006). Livelihoods and the Environment at Important Bird Areas: Listening to Local Voices. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2007/01/listening_to_local_voices_IBAs... (download 18 July 2012).

Thomas, D. & Langley, N. (2011). Empowering the Grassroots – BirdLife, Participation, and Local Communities. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/community/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Empowering-... (download 18 July 2012).

Climate Change

BirdLife International (2004). Climate change is already affecting birds in diverse ways. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/183 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Climate change is impacting the distribution, abundance and migration of Australian birds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/170 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2008). Climate change is driving poleward shifts in the distributions of species. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/171 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2009). Tracking the impacts of climate change on European birds. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/288 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2009). The biological traits of some bird species render them particularly vulnerable to climate change. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/291 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2009). Sea level rise poses a major threat to coastal ecosystems and the biota they support. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/290 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2009). Safeguarding Important Bird Areas is key to tackling conservation in the face of climate change. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/251 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2009). Restoring forest ecosystems will help buffer communities against climate change. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/280 (download 18 July 2012).

BirdLife International (2012). Climate Change. URL: http://www.birdlife.org/climate_change/index.html (download 18 July 2012).

Both, C., van Turnhout, C.A.M., Bijlsma, R.G., Siepel, H., van Strien, A.J. & Foppen, R.P.B. (2010). Avian population consequences of climate change are most severe for long-distance migrants in seasonal habitats. Proc. Royal Soc. London (Ser. B Biol. Sci.) 277: 1259–1266.

Gregory, R.D., Willis, S.G., Jiguet, F., Voríšek, P., Klvanová, A., van Strien, A., Huntley, B., Collingham, Y.C., Couvet, D. & Green, R.E. (2009). An indicator of the impact of climatic change on European bird populations. PLoS One 4(3): e4678.

Heath, M., Phillips, J., Munroe, R. & Langley, N. eds. (2009). Partners with Nature: How Healthy Ecosystems are Helping the World’s Most Vulnerable Adapt to Climate Change. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available from: URL: http://www.birdlife.org/climate_change/pdfs/Ecosystemsandadaption.pdf (download 18 July 2012).

Hole, D.G., Huntley, B., Collingham, Y.C., Fishpool, L.D.C., Pain, D.J., Butchart, S.H.M. & Willis, S.G. (2011). Towards a management framework for protected area networks in the face of climate change. Conserv. Biol. 25: 305–315.

Hole, D.G., Huntley, B., Pain, D.J., Fishpool, L.D.C., Butchart, S.H.M., Collingham, Y.C., Rahbek, C. & Willis, S.G. (2009). Projected impacts of climate change on a continental-scale protected area network. Ecol. Letters 12: 420–431.

Huntley, B., Green, R.E., Collingham, Y.C. & Willis, S.G. (2007). A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Durham University, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds & Lynx Editions, Barcelona.

Jiguet, F., Gregory, R.D., Devictor, V., Green, R.E, Voríšek, P., van Strien, A. & Couvet, D. (2009). Population trends of European common birds are predicted by characteristics of their climatic niche. Global Change Biol. 16(2): 497–505.

Popy, S., Bordignon, L. & Prodon, R. (2010). A weak upward elevational shift in the distributions of breeding birds in the Italian Alps. J. Biogeogr. 37: 57–67.