European farmland bird numbers decline by 44%

A recent European survey has found that the numbers of farmland birds across Europe, has declined by 44%.

Nineteen of the 33 birds surveyed were found in the UK, with widespread declines of  corn bunting, grey partridge, and the turtle dove.

Bird organisations, such as Bird Life International and the RSPB, blame widespread agricultural intensification throughout Europe, and have called for a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“These results show how urgently we need a complete reform of the Common Agriculture Policy to support farmers in delivering environmental improvements throughout the countryside,” said Ariel Brunner, BirdLife’s EU Agriculture Policy Officer, based in Brussels.

The organisations were also concerned that new EU-accession states that hold some of Europe’s greatest concentrations of farmland birds were showing similar declines.

Mr Brunner said: “We are working to an outdated policy that still encourages unsustainable intensive farming, while failing to support those extensive farming systems that are vital for biodiversity.”

The study also showed forest birds had declined by 9%, which was concerning because forest environments take longer to react.

RSPB’s Richard Gregory commented: “We have the data and the knowledge to help farmland and forest birds, but we need urgently to look deeper into the reasons behind these declines-and to design effective policies that will ensure further loses do not occur.”



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