Declining bird populations are a ‘grim’ reminder of rapid biodiversity loss, says new report

Declining bird populations are a ‘grim’ reminder of rapid biodiversity loss, says new report
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Declining bird populations are a ‘grim’ reminder of rapid biodiversity …  Mongabay-India

Declining bird populations are a ‘grim’ reminder of rapid biodiversity loss, says new report

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Bird Population Decline in India


A new report assessing bird diversity and population stability in India has found that a majority of bird species in the country are on the decline. This is an alarming indication of biodiversity loss and anthropogenic pressures on the environment. The report, titled “State of India’s Birds 2023,” was released on August 25 by a consortium of 13 government and non-profit conservation organizations. It is based on 30 million bird sightings and highlights the urgent need for action to protect bird species and their habitats.

Key Findings

  • Around 60 percent of birds in India have experienced population decline over the long term of 30 years, says 2023 State of India’s Birds report.
  • Birds occupying open natural ecosystems, such as grasslands, have seen steep declines in numbers. In terms of diet, birds that feed on vertebrates and carrion have declined the most, followed by birds that feed on insects.
  • Targeted, systematic, periodic monitoring of bird populations and using consistent methods can help species management.

Birds and Ecosystem Services

Birds play a crucial role in ecosystem services, including seed dispersal, pollination, and acting as predators and scavengers. However, the report reveals that around 60 percent of birds assessed have declined over the past 30 years, with 40 percent currently declining over the last eight years. This decline is a matter of deep concern for conservationists.

Impact on Ecosystems

The decline in bird populations can have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems. For example, the decline in raptors could result in changes in rodent populations, leading to imbalances in the ecosystem. It is essential to understand how ecosystems are adapting to changing bird numbers.

Conservation Priority

The State of India’s Birds 2023 report identifies 178 bird species of high conservation priority that require urgent action plans for their conservation and deeper research to understand the factors leading to their decline. Some of these species include the sarus crane, the Indian courser, the Andaman serpent eagle, and the Nilgiri laughingthrush.

An Indian great grey shrike, an open grasslands species. Its population has declined by 80 percent over the long-term period of about 30 years. Photo by Shantanu Kuveskar/Wikimedia Commons.

Birds in Open Habitats Particularly Vulnerable

The report highlights that birds occupying open natural ecosystems (ONEs), such as grasslands and semi-arid landscapes, are particularly vulnerable. These species have seen a decline of 50 percent. Grassland specialists like the great grey shrike and chestnut-bellied sandgrouse have suffered significant declines, emphasizing the importance of conserving ONEs.

Threats and Recommendations

The report identifies eight broad threats to bird populations in India, including environmental pollutants, forest degradation, urbanization, avian disease, illegal hunting and trade, and climate change. It recommends conducting targeted, systematic, periodic monitoring of bird populations using consistent methods. Additionally, it emphasizes the need to mitigate the negative effects of infrastructure projects, such as wind energy, on bird populations.

Birds inhabiting open natural ecosystems (ONEs) are most likely to decline in numbers. SDG 15: Life on Land

Target 15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Indicator 15.5.1: Red List Index.

The table above summarizes the findings from analyzing the article. It identifies the relevant SDGs, targets, and indicators related to the issues discussed. SDG 15: Life on Land is addressed in the article, specifically through Target 15.1 and Target 15.5. The indicators mentioned in the article that can be used to measure progress towards these targets are Indicator 15.1.1 (forest area as a proportion of total land area) and Indicator 15.5.1 (Red List Index).

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: india.mongabay.com


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