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: email@example.com.
Richard Gregory & Petr Voříšek
The indicators received big attention from various institutions incl. Eurostat and European Commission. Procedure of data collation and species selection were improved and the new data collation started. It is supposed that updated indices and indicators could be available by the end of 2004. Several tasks were not realised because of capacity reasons. Capacity at international and national level is still limiting factor and has been addressed in long-term plan and budget of the project.
We have produced first Pan-European indices and trends of selected 48 common bird species in cooperation with national monitoring coordinators from 18 European countries, who contributed with their national indices of the species. Furthermore, combined indices (indicators) of farmland and woodland common bird species have been produced. Individual species trends and indices and indicators are available at the internet. Production of indices and indicators has been a great success. Although we need to improve our procedure and outputs, we have shown that we are able to deliver relevant indicators.
The project outputs have been promoted, published and used at various opportunities: The farmland bird indicator was published in BirdLife International publication „State of the Worlds Birds“. The EU institutions have been provided by the indicators that could be used for IRENA Report, European Action Plan for Skylark, European Commission 2003 Environment Policy Review and leaflet on indicators etc. BirdLife International has been provided by project outputs to be used in „Farming for Life“ campaign.
The project outputs have been used by BirdLife partners or EBCC delegates at their national level too.
The project was presented at several international fora including BirdLife International World Conference and Partnership Meeting in Durban (South Africa) in March 2004 and the conference “Beyond extinction rates: monitoring wild nature for the 2010 target” organised by the Royal Society in London.
However, planned Report State of Europe’s Common Birds was not published mainly because of capacity reasons and also because we hope to get improved and updated results in 2004, which will be more suitable for the report. Also because of limited capacity we did not succeed to produce Best Practice Guide for national monitoring coordinators. Publication of results in a scientific paper is in progress and hopefully we will get a paper published soon. Simple web page has been established as a communication tool and it is intended to develop it more within EBCC web site which is under preparation currently.
It is obvious from above, that capacity and funding are major factors limiting further development and improvement of the project. We need to raise enough funds for national monitoring schemes and international coordination to ensure long-term sustainability of the project. This issue has been addressed in five-year plan, which was prepared during the last project period and which poses a framework for our work in near future. We have also already started to collate data from countries in order to produce updated indices and indicators in 2004. We have improved species selection criteria and enlarged number of species (from 48 in 2003 to 84 in 2004) and number of contributing countries. Data analysis procedure has been a subject of further improvement too. We can expect updated indices and
indicators to be available by the end of 2004. Apart of two big tasks, production of updated indices and ndicators and publication of the Report State of Europe’s Common Birds mentioned above, we will focus our effort on assistance to national monitoring schemes, advocacy work and further scientific improvement of the methodology.
Producing European indices and indicators would not have been possible without the efforts of the many ornithologists across Europe who kindly cooperated in the project, provided us with national indices or helped us in
other ways to get the data. Data has been analysed together with Arco Van Strien and Adriaan Gmelig Meyling at Statistics Netherlands. Richard Gregory (RSPB), David Noble (BTO) and Ruud Foppen (SOVON) contributed also by many valuable suggestions and comments. We also thank all those who have supported the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring scheme, we are grateful to Nicola Crockford (RSPB), Norbert Schaffer (RSPB), Ward Hagemeijer (Wetlands International), Dominique Richard, Grégoire Lois, Vibeke Horlyck and the European Topic Centre on Nature Protection & Biodiversity/European Environment Agency for comment and support.
Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project is a joint project of BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council, funded by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The project would not have been possible without the fieldwork of thousands of volunteer ornithologists across Europe.
Information on existing common bird monitoring schemes was collected across European countries in 2002 to help development of bird monitoring, particularly Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project. Results of this survey of surveys show there are 20 countries with data potentially suitable for generating Pan-European indices for common birds, according to the framework adopted at the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring workshop at Prague in September 2002.
Substantial progress has been made in development of common bird monitoring – 13 new schemes have been established since the previous review on monitoring schemes was published in 1998. Recently established schemes are better designed and organised, a benefit of the pooling of experience among monitoring specialists across Europe.
There is a strong trend towards more representative selection of sample plots in new schemes, whereas free choice is a method commonly used by older schemes, and better analytical methods are more often used in new schemes than in older ones. Since free choice of sample plots might bias results, and chaining methods may lead to spurious trends, there is a strong need to improve schemes in these respects in future. Whereas the transition from an older analytical method to a better one may be relatively straightforward, the question of how to change sampling design without losing valuable information from the past sets a big challenge for the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring project.
Other weaknesses and gaps challenge common bird monitoring in Europe, however. There is strong need for training at the national coordination level, and perhaps an even greater need for funding. There must be long-term commitments to funding for national monitoring schemes to make common bird monitoring sustainable. Training and financial support could help to improve scheme design and data analysis in existing monitoring schemes.
The survey has also revealed the remaining gaps in geographical coverage: western European countries have the greatest development of common bird monitoring schemes, while southeastern Europe seems to be the region showing least progress. The biggest challenge is monitoring in eastern European countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia) because of their huge area and low density of potential fieldworkers. Existing schemes in some central and eastern European countries also need attention, because they usually lack finance and need improvement. Political events, notably the enlargement of the European Union and the related changes in land-use that are expected through the Common Agricultural Policy, should be considered as important factors for the future development of monitoring schemes. Thus, based on this survey, priority countries that need attention are Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Completing this review would not have been possible without the efforts of the many ornithologists across Europe who kindly filled in the questionnaires to inform us about the current state of monitoring schemes in their countries. We are very grateful to all of them. Special thanks to Anny Anselin, editor of Bird Census News, for her effort spent on this special issue.
The whole issue of the Bird Census News containing Review of large-scale generic population monitoring schemes in Europe and Report on Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring workshop can be downloaded in PDF format here.
The report summarising the main content of the workshop and its conclusions
and recommendations was published in the Bird Census News 2003 (Volume 16, N. 1) and is available in pdf format.
The full contents, including all presentations, are available freely on CD-ROM from Petr Voříšek, project coordinator.