A biodiversity indicator for Europe: Wild Bird Indicator update 2005

An updated set of wild bird indicators for Europe was released on 8 June 2005. The new results come from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme(PECBMS). Over the last twenty-five years, the indicators show that on average common birds of farmland have declined sharply in number and common forest birds have declined moderately. In contrast, common generalist birds have increased. Overall, these results confirm earlier studies by showing that, while some generalist species have responded positively to human-induced change in the environment, many specialist species have responded negatively.

An updated set of wild bird indicators for Europe was released on 8 June 2005. The new results come from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme(PECBMS). This scheme is a partnership involving the European Bird Census Council, RSPB, BirdLife International and Statistics Netherlands, that aims to deliver policy relevant biodiversity indicators for Europe.
These are the first genuine indicators of their kind in Europe and they paint a mixed picture of how the environment around us is changing. Over the last twenty-five years, the indicators show that on average common birds of farmland have declined sharply in number and common forest birds have declined moderately. In contrast, common generalist birds have increased. Evidence from other sources has shown that changing agricultural methods, especially increased specialisation and intensification, has driven the decline of farmland birds. The general causes for the decline of forest birds are less well known, as are the reasons for population gains in some groups. Overall, these results confirm earlier studies by showing that, while some generalist species have responded positively to human-induced change in the environment, many specialist species have responded negatively. This is a process known as ´biotic homogenisation´. Our analysis suggests that continued and likely human development across Europe would have a disproportionate negative impact upon specialist birds (and likely similar impacts on specialist animals and plants), unless, that is, development is carried out in a sustainable manner and incorporates the needs of nature. Our analysis also suggests that the threat to wildlife may be greater in the new Members States, and in East and Central Europe generally, where human impacts appear to have been less marked in the past, but where rapid development is likely in the future.
For more details see pdf version of the report.
For further information, please contact:
Petr Voříšek on +420 274780601, Email: EuroMonitoring@birdlife.cz or Richard Gregory on +44 1767 680551, Email: richard.gregory@rspb.org.uk.

Richard Gregory & Petr Voříšek