World Bird News August 2010

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Catastrophic forest fire delivers huge blow to Europe’s rarest seabird

A massive forest fire on the island of Madeira has killed several breeding adults and 65% of this year’s chicks of Zino’s Petrel (Endangered). BirdLife International and SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) have launched an urgent appeal (click here) for funds to carry out emergency conservation work needed before the winter sets in.
Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira is Europe’s rarest seabird and one of the rarest birds in the world, nesting only on a few mountain ledges in the rugged central massif of Madeira island. Once on the edge of extinction with numbers down to a few tens of pairs, intense conservation action over the past 20 years, led by the Natural Park of Madeira (Parque Natural da Madeira - PNM) with support from SPEA, the Freira Conservation Project and Funchal Municipal Museum, has seen its population grow to almost 80 pairs.

In recent weeks, forest fires have ravaged parts of Madeira, and on 13 August they hit the heart of the central massif. This area (which is protected as part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network) comprises a very important habitat and supports several endemic plants and animals, including the Zino’s Petrel breeding colony, where many nestlings were still in their burrows.

On 15 August, as soon as the ground and soil had cooled down sufficiently, PNM staff visited the breeding cliffs to assess the damage. The results were shocking: 25 young and 3 adults were found dead, and only 13 young fledglings were found alive in their underground chambers. As well as the dead birds, the fire exacerbated soil erosion, with several nesting burrows having disappeared.
"The loss of 65% of this year’s potential young is a huge blow to Zino’s Petrel. Our immediate conservation efforts are focusing on helping the remaining 13 fledglings to survive and minimising the risk of further soil erosion on the breeding ledges,” said Ana Isabel Fagundes, SPEA’s Madeira Coordinator.

“All nests with surviving chicks have been reinforced, all corpses removed, and bait stations for rats around the now barren nesting areas established. Burnt bushes and trees have also been removed to avoid the risk of adult birds colliding with them on their nocturnal visits to feed the chicks,” reported Paulo Oliveira, PNM Director.

Encouragingly, the immediate conservation action taken by PNM at the breeding colony appears to be working: “Since our first visit to the breeding ledges, we have monitored the 13 surviving fledgings closely and can confirm that they are still being fed by their parents and appear to be healthy,” reported Paulo Oliveira following his latest visit on 24 August.

The PNM and SPEA have now developed an action plan for the breeding colony. Immediate measures needed include covering areas with anti-erosion materials and constructing artificial nesting burrows, both of which have proven successful on other seabird breeding colonies on neighbouring Bugio island. Other planned work includes taking steps to help the natural vegetation recover through seed dispersal.

The PNM and SPEA are now seeking financial help to cover the costs of the materials and manpower needed to implement these essential emergency measures. BirdLife International has set up a secure online donation web page to help collect the urgent funds to help Zino’s Petrel. Click here to find out more and to donate.


BirdLife report points the way to a more sustainable future

BirdLife report points the way to a more sustainable future

A new report, Partners for Sustainability – What BirdLife is doing for People and the Planet, highlights BirdLife’s work around the world which combines biodiversity conservation with sustainable development.

There is a growing consensus that the international community will be much more likely to meet objectives like reducing poverty and improving health, wellbeing and resilience to climate change if we give biodiversity and ecosystem services the priority they deserve.

Partners for Sustainability describes BirdLife’s impressive track record of working locally, nationally and globally, with communities, governments, international bodies and the public and private sectors, to create the environmental conditions for sustainable development.

The target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 has already been missed, and most of the global targets for the reduction of poverty by 2015 are also unlikely to be met. Further massive losses of biodiversity are increasingly likely, with inevitable consequences for human wellbeing, unless we act to address the underlying causes.

Partners for Sustainability sets out the challenges, and while acknowledging that there are no easy solutions, presents 26 case studies of projects by Birdlife and its Partners which demonstrate that it is possible to live more secure and fulfilling lives in a world still rich in biodiversity.
Since the late 1990s, Birdlife has been building a network of grassroots organisations at Important Bird Areas which ensure that conservation contributes to better livelihoods, social justice, equity and respect for human rights. BirdLife has also been successful in integrating biodiversity in the policy and practice of national governments and international institutions, and is engaging with the business sectors which have historically done the most environmental damage to work towards Net Positive Impact on biodiversity at their operations.

As a global network present in over 100 countries, and with a structure which provides continuity of purpose from the grassroots to international levels, BirdLife is in a unique position to address many of the challenges the world faces,” said Dr David Thomas, BirdLife’s Head of Environment and Sustainable Development and the report’s co-author. “Partners for Sustainability shows how we are helping to create the civil society networks, the inter-sectoral partnerships, and the social and economic models that will enable humankind to make the transition to a sustainable future

In Cameroon Bagyeli and Bakola hunter-gatherers are being helped to meet citizenship requirements to secure their rights to land and resources
A community in Egypt has been empowered to persuade a powerful construction company to change its environmentally destructive behaviour
Villagers in the Inner Gulf of Thailand are restoring mangrove ecosystems devastated by years of unsustainable shrimp-farming, and have organised to lobby for better protection of mangroves by government
A web-based tool is providing information on biodiversity to help guide the plans and policies of banks and big businesses
BirdLife’s engagement with fishing fleets and fisheries management organisations is reducing waste and improving catches while conserving seabirds and other biodiversity
Cocoa farmers in Brazil are restoring the traditional cabruca system, adding value to production and benefiting endemic biodiversity
In Samoa, the Matafaa indigenous community is protecting and extending coastal mangroves as protection against increased incidence of cyclones caused by climate change
Through a producers’ cooperative, rice farmers in the Ebro Delta of Spain are restoring wetlands and producing organic rice and pasta, benefiting the local economy and protecting sensitive ecosystems
A Tanzanian group supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), a partnership between BirdLife and other conservation NGOs, has helped two communities become FSC-certified forest managers.
BirdLife’s US Partner helped persuade the US Bureau of Land Management to change its leasing policies, ensuring that oil and gas drilling in the state of Wyoming can continue without threatening areas of high biodiversity value.
Download Partners for sustainability report (PDF, 2.8 mb)

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2010 |  World Bird News August 2010

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