The Spirit of BirdLife – BirdLife International
By Shaun Hurrell
Header image: With its pole-to-pole migration, the Arctic Tern is a symbol of BirdLife’s international collaboration © Agami/Shutterstock
Every organization has defining moments that mark when their ideas took off, and BirdLife is no exception. Some may live on as golden anecdotes in the memoirs of longtime staff who have seen action on the front lines of conservation, but others may now only be documented in old journals and history books – but even the foreword Handbook of the birds of the world62 full pages that chronicle the growth of BirdLife “from an expert council to a global partnership for all”, doesn’t quite capture the full story of BirdLife.
In the last issue, we told the story of how BirdLife was born exactly a century ago. At the time, the visionary conservationists who came together to found the International Committee for Bird Preservation (ICBP) may not have quite imagined the international movement that BirdLife would become and what it would bring to birds. , habitats and humans. Today, BirdLife’s conservation work can be divided into four pillars: species, sites, systems and society – key approaches to conserving nature that have been the heart and soul of our conservation work since 1922.
Underlying these are the principles that conservation action should be informed by scientific knowledge and that birds see no boundaries – international collaboration is therefore essential for their protection. So over the years, BirdLife has perfected the art of local to global impact with a suite of extraordinary projects and programs that work towards a vision of a world in harmony with nature.
Some landmark achievements stand out in this ever-evolving story, including the first land acquisition by BirdLife in the Seychelles, the formation of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network (which was largely based on BirdLife inventories of areas important for Conservation of Birds and Biodiversity, or IBA), the launch of the Prevention of Extinction Program and its pivotal projects to save species, the creation of the Albatross Task Force in response to the drowning of seabirds in gear fisheries, and the creation of completely new NGOs such as Asity Madagascar, Burung Indonesia, SAVE Brasil and NatureLife Cambodia, thanks to our capacity building work. It would be impossible to mention all of BirdLife’s best moments, so here are a few that truly capture the aforementioned principles, or “spirit” of the organization.