Report on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring, April 2006

Detailed report on progress in the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring (PECBM) for period 2002-2005 was presented at the PECBM workshop in September 2005. This report aims to inform about developments in the project in period from July 2005 to April 2006, although some activities mentioned in this report were realised even before July 2005.
As it was widely publicised, also at this web site, updated European indices and indicators for time period 1980-2003 have been produced using the data provided kindly by 18 European countries. The indicators were officially launched in June 2005 in Brussels and since farmland bird indicator has been accepted to the long list of EU Structural Indicators and also to EU Sustainale Development Indicators, the index of farmland birds is also available at the Eurostat web site.
Furthermore, European indices and trends of 77 species have been made available at this web site.The species trends were presented also at EOU conference in Strasbourg (August 2005) and the first glossy report State of Europe’s Common Birds is to be published in Spring 2006. The PECBM was mentioned, recommended or PECBM outputs were used at several other opportunities by various institutions and individuals. For instance, wild bird indicator was suggested in press release and report by European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC); mentioned in EEA core set indicators guide or “Environmental Indicators for Agriculture” report by OECD.
Major event for Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring was a workshop organised in September 2005 in Prague, Czech Republic. National monitoring coordinators, other experts on bird monitoring, representatives of BirdLife Partners and national EBCC delegates met to hear about progress in the project since 2002, discuss practical issues (e.g. selection of species for indicators or combinig data from more schemes in one country) and share experience with running a monitoring scheme including such difficult issues as funding or motivating volunteers as fieldworkers. The workshop program, presentations, outputs from discussion groups and conclusions from the workshop were published in electronic form on a CD-ROM, which is available at the project coordinator on request.


Participants of the workshop in Prague, September 2005, photo by Z. VermouzekAccording to the workshop conclusions, new data collation procedure was intended to start in January 2006, data to be collated by the end of April/beginning of May 2006. The aim is to produce updated indices and indicators by the end of 2006. Ideally, the updated European indices will include data from 2005 too. Implementation of this plan has been dependent on species selection – new lists of species based on work of regional coordinators appointed at the workshop were expected before the end of 2005.
However, not all the regional species lists were delivered on time. Thus, it was decided to continue working on species selection in parallel with data collation. National indices of all species with data available in countries will be collated and species for indicators selected later. New data provision forms were distributed to national/regional monitoring coordinators at the end of March 2006 with deadline by the end of May 2006.
Data management and production of the outputs become more complicated with increasing number of contributing countries, increasing number of species we produce trends and indices, which means we need to improve our system of data flow and computation procedures and also quality control. We need to increase capacity at national level and make production of national trends and indices easier for national monitoring coordinators. This will be possible thanks to a grant by the European Commission, which started in January 2006 and will last to September 2007. The objectives of the grant are: 1. to ensure updated European wild bird indicators can be produced regularly, 2. to improve wild bird monitoring data analysis and quality control techniques,3. to improve quality and speed of data flow from countries to the PECBM co-ordinator, 4. to improve the quality and scientific credibility of the indicators.
The project will implement a standardised system for automated data collection and analysis for use by the national monitoring schemes. The system in place for creating indicators at the European level from national data will also be improved. A full review on wild bird monitoring schemes in Europe will be undertaken to assess current status and identify areas for further improvement. Best Practice guidance for national wild bird monitoring will be prepared and disseminated. An ecological analysis of population status and trends amongst wild bird species within Europe will be undertaken to identify trends and patterns. This will be used to validate the monitoring data upon which the indicators are based. The monitoring network will be maintained through visits of the coordination staff to participating countries, and through the dissemination of network reports to share progress and results. The project will be promoted through pages on the EBCC website, through presentations at relevant conferences, and through the production of the ‘State of Europe’s Common Birds report’. New staff, a technical assistant of the project coordinator, will be hired.
We have also seen development in monitoring at national level. New project “Strengthening the Capacity of NGOs to create and use Wild Bird Indicators as tools to affect policy change for the achievement of the Convention of Biological Diversity and European Union targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2010” has received the support by GEF recently with seven countries involved: Bulgaria (BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria, leading partner), Belarus (APB/BirdLife Belarus), Macedonia (Macedonian Ecological Society), Romania (ROS/BirdLife Romania), Turkey (Doğa Derneği/BirdLife Affiliate in Turkey), Poland (OTOP/BirdLife Poland) and Lithuania (LOD/BirdLife Lithuania). New common farmland bird monitoring scheme commenced in Russia with a support by the Netherland’s embassy in Moscow. Such development at national level brings a hope that we will be able to make a gap in PECBM geographical coverage smaller within next few years.
We are grateful to all, who contributed to the project. Particularly coordinators of national or regional monitoring schemes, BirdLife partners, EBCC national delegates and thousands of volunteer ornithologists across Europe. Data analysis would not have been possible without huge effort of Arco Van Strien and Adriaan Gmelig Meyling at Statistics Netherlands. Members of an informal Technical group, Richard Gregory (RSPB), David Noble (BTO), Ruud Foppen (SOVON), Arco Van Strien (CBS) and Gregoire Lois (ETC) contributed by many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank to Zoltan Waliczky (RSPB) and Norbert Schaffer (RSPB) for their help and support.
Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project is a joint project of BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council, supported by the European Commission, Directorate General Environment, and by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The sole responsibility lies with the author of this article and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Contacts:
Project manager: Richard Gregory, Head of Monitoring and Survey, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, SG19 2DL, Sandy, e-mail: richard.gregory@rspb.org.uk.
Project coordinator: Petr Voříšek, Czech Society for Ornithology, V Olšinách 449/41, CZ-100 00 Prague 10, Czech Republic, e-mail: EuroMonitoring@birdlife.cz.

Petr Voříšek