World Bird News for November 2011

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Call to save UK’s hummingbirds, albatrosses and whales

Almost 17,000 people have called for the British Government to step up and honour its responsibilities to the UK Overseas Territories, which contain over 85% of the UK’s globally threatened species.
The UK’s Overseas Territories are home to an assortment of species, from penguins to parrots and hummingbirds, seabirds and whales. Their unique environments are home to hundreds of species found nowhere else, a third of the world’s albatrosses and the largest and most pristine coral atoll on earth, the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Tackling the threats of habitat destruction, invasive species and climate changes to Europe’s Overseas Territories is one of the 10 key actions needed to prevent further bird extinctions identified by BirdLife International.
The pledges for action are being handed in to Henry Bellingham MP, Minister for the Overseas Territories in response to the UK Government’s ongoing consultation on the Overseas Territories.
Representatives from the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) presented Mr Bellingham with an image of a Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross – one of the 33 bird species in the UK Overseas Territories threatened by extinction – made up of the names of supporters who have added their voice.
The UK Government is currently consulting on a new strategy for Overseas Territories. Results of the consultation will eventually feed into a White Paper and the RSPB hopes the Government will step up to the environmental challenges faced by the Territories.
Dr Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s director of international operations, said: “These pledges are a clear demonstration that people care about Overseas Territories and want the Government to take action.
“We are urging the Government to consider its 2020 biodiversity obligations and commit to developing and implementing its Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy in the upcoming White Paper. This could save hundreds of British species from the threat of global extinction.”
All 14 territories, mostly made up of island groups, are a treasure trove of spectacular species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, but hundreds of them are sliding towards extinction.
Put together, the Overseas Territories occupy an area of land far smaller than the UK mainland, yet their wildlife value is immeasurably more significant. A major driver of the economies for the islands is tourism, and wildlife and the natural environment are major attractions.
Wildlife on Overseas Territories faces several threats, but non-native species, fisheries, habitat degradation and climate change are the factors affecting the greatest number of species.
Dr Stowe added: “We must take care of our islands and the exceptional species that live on them. We welcome the UK Government’s new approach to the Territories, and hope it will fulfil this promising new engagement by developing its Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy.
“Three hundred and fifteen species in the Overseas Territories face extinction. Their survival is in our hands but time is running out.”

Minimising the risk of poisoning to migratory birds

Minimising the risk of poisoning to migratory birds

Poisoning – both deliberate and accidental – is one of the major problems facing migratory birds worldwide, as identified in the CMS flyway resolution. Some birds of prey, especially vultures, are known to be under severe threat from poisoning. For many other species, poisoning is widespread but is often little noticed or reported, and its effects are more serious than usually realised.

But there is no international guidance available for states wishing to address the poisoning problems faced by birds. Without coordinated action, poisoning will remain a major driver of declines in many species. CMS is the only instrument that can provide international guidance to governments on such a species-specific issue – as shown by the CMS guidelines on powerlines and windfarms.

A draft resolution on minimizing the risk of poisoning to migratory birds has been submitted to COP-10 of the CMS by the Swiss Government. It calls on Parties to the CMS, non-Party range states and other stakeholders, including NGOs, to cooperate to address the poisoning of migratory landbirds, whether through the deliberate use of poisons, secondary poisoning by agrochemicals or where other wildlife is the primary target, or accidental or negligent misuse of poisons.

“Addressing bird poisoning has wider benefits, because there are often great risks also for other wildlife, domestic animals and for people”, said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife International’s Director of Science. “Bird poisoning is a human health issue too.”

CMS guidelines on preventing poisoning of migratory birds would ideally be developed through a focused working group. A donor is being sought to support a poisoning working group; adoption of the resolution will greatly increase the chances of finding such support. The group would continue to oversee implementation of the guidelines once they had been adopted at COP-11 in 2014. The CMS/UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Task Force on Wildlife Diseases provides an example of how effective such a focused working group can be.

The working group would undertake a detailed assessment of the scope and severity of the poisoning of migratory birds globally, and how it varies geographically and between species and families. Where sufficient evidence exists, it would recommend suitable responses, such as legislation, the operation of effective regulatory regimes, and understanding and addressing the socio-economic drivers of poisoning.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2011 |  World Bird News for November 2011

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