France’s bird population has declined by 30% in 30 years, figures show
Falling bird populations in France could have a disastrous impact on biodiversity in France, a leading expert said.
Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of the bird protection association the League for the protection of birds (LPO), reacted to the results of the Common Birds Time Tracking Study.
The study was carried out by VigieNature, a science initiative involving volunteers across France to help track local wildlife, including plants, insects, birds and small mammals.
It shows a 28% decrease in bird populations in urban areas and a 30% decrease in agricultural land in France between 1989 and 2019.
The study tracked populations of 123 bird species and found that 43 species are in decline, including goldfinches, doves and house swallows.
Mr. Bougrain-Dubourg declared FranceInfo: âWhen we talk about birds, we are talking about everyone living.
âWhen bird populations are healthy, there is a procession of small mammals, bacteria, reptiles and insects that thrive. When bird populations are reduced, this biodiversity disappears. ”
Study finds human activity is causing decline
The study found that the decline in bird populations was the result of human activity such as intensive agricultural practices, concrete and asphalt surfaces replacing natural soil, and building renovations removing spaces for them. birds to nest.
Some birds, like doves, can still be killed by hunters and poachers in France despite being on a red list of endangered species.
Mr Bougrain-Dubourg said the actions of large grain producers in France had an overwhelming impact on small producers and nature.
“Intensive agriculture erases thickets, low walls, ponds, grassy areas, hedges all that contributes to biodiversity and that allows for a minimum of animal populations,” he said.
He also spoke of the impact of the increase in the quantities of concrete and asphalt used in France. âHe eats an average of 60,000 hectares [of land] per year. It’s basically the size of a department, âhe said.
âWe have lost 50% of our wetlands in 30 years, and wetlands are the birthplace of life for many species. “
He added that the problem was not limited to France as many migratory birds faced similar problems in other countries. Climate change is also a factor in reducing the amount of green space in which birds can live and nest around the world.
In France, the increase in wind farms in natural areas is also a factor, although not a major one, in the decline of the population.
Rather than calling for a ban on new wind farms, Mr. Bougrain-Dubourg asked the government to avoid building them in areas protected by the EU’s Natura 2000 classification.
Cash can be saved
Mr Bougrain-Dubourg offered some hope, saying that many symbolic bird species have been saved in France since the 1970s.
These include the white stork, which has grown from a population of 10 to 3,000 today.
Read more: Storks more abundant in France and spreading in different departments
The peregrine falcon has almost disappeared due to the use of pesticides, but now nests in Paris.
And griffon vultures are now so numerous in the CÃ©vennes mountains that they are a tourist attraction, despite the virtual disappearance of populations years ago.
He said that today the focus should be on saving common birds.
âEvery time a species goes extinct, a bit of humanity loses its feathers,â he said.
âWe cannot look at nature in a utilitarian way. [We need it for] practical reasons, but also psychological reasons, medical reasons, and many others. ”
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