Tag Archives: human impact

Rural structures pose greater relative threat to birds than urban ones


(Peter Kelley 21 July 2017)

About one billion birds are killed every year when they unwittingly fly into human-made objects such as buildings with reflective windows. Such collisions are the largest unintended human cause of bird deaths worldwide—and they are a serious concern for conservationists.

A new paper published in June in the journal Biological Conservation finds that, as one might suspect, smaller buildings cause fewer bird deaths than do bigger buildings. But the research team of about 60—including three co-authors with the University of Washington—also found that larger buildings in rural areas pose a greater threat to birds than if those same-sized buildings were located in an urban area.

Lead author of the paper is Stephen B. Hager, professor of biology at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Co-author Karen Dyson, an urban design and planning doctoral candidate in the UW College of Built Environments helped collect bird-collision data and assisted in editing the paper, along with UW alumni Anqi Chen and Carolyn Foster.

The research team monitored 300 buildings of varying size and environmental surroundings for bird mortality at 40 college and university campuses in North America in the autumn of 2014. This included six buildings on the UW’s Seattle campus. They designed a standardized monitoring protocol so that the field crews documented bird mortality uniformly. In all, they documented 324 bird carcasses of 41 species. At each site, somewhere between zero and 34 birds met their feathery demise.

“Consistent with previous studies, we found that building size had a strong positive effect on bird-window collision mortality,” Hager and team wrote in a statement about the continent-wide research. “But the strength of the effect on mortality depended on regional urbanization.”

Why is that? The researchers think it might be related to how birds select habitats during migration, and differences in bird behavior between urban and rural populations. For example, they write, forest-adapted birds often select rural habitats with lots of open space and fairly few impervious surfaces over more urban areas.

Lighting patterns may also play a part, they reason. Lights from large, low-rise buildings in rural areas may act to attract migrating birds in what the team dubbed a “large-scale beacon effect,” where this effect may be “more diluted among large buildings in urban areas.”

Another theory is that urban birds may actually learn from “non-fatal” collisions and gain “new anti-collision behaviors” that help them avoid colliding with windows in urban areas. Previous research, they note, “suggests that the relatively large brain size in birds makes them primed for learning.”

The results suggest, the authors write, that measures taken to prevent bird collisions “should be prioritized at large buildings in regions of low urbanization throughout North America.”

Det tabte paradis: Europas sidste naturskov Bialowieza ødelægges (Lost paradise)

Före (before):

bialowieza forest

Efter (after):


(Toke F. Nyborg 26 June 2017)

Intens træfældning i Bialowieza-skoven i Polen er ved at tilintetgøre Europas bedst bevarede og sidste stykke urskov

Under trækronernes beskyttende baldakin i Bialowieza-skoven i Polen finder man det bedst bevarede skov-økosystem og sidste stykke løvfældende urskov i hele Europa.

Skoven er udpeget som UNESCO verdensarv og Natura 2000 område.

Nu er intens afskovning ved at tilintetgøre Europas ‘Yellowstone’. Det beretter Jaroslaw Krogulec, leder af BirdLife Polens naturfaglige afdeling:

”Så langt øjet rækker har træfældning efterladt et spor af ødelæggelse. Bialowieza-skoven er et paradis for biodiversitet uden sidestykke på dette kontinent, som byder på et rigt dyre- og planteliv blandt andet Europas største bestand af bisoner”.

Intet undslipper skovarbejdernes motorsave
Godt en tredjedel af Bialowieza-skoven er under officiel beskyttelse som nationalpark, mens de resterende to tredjedele er underlagt skovforvaltning og i stigende grad dårlig forvaltning. I store områder er det kun stubbene efter 150 år gamle træer, som vidner om skovens majestætisk fortid.

Statsstøttet hærværk
BirdLife Polen gør hvad de kan, for at stoppe, hvad de kalder ”statsstøttet hærværk”:

”I løbet af de seneste uger vi (red. BirdLife Polen) sammen med andre miljøorganisationer holdt UNESCO underrettet om ødelæggelserne, og opfordrer indtrængende EU-Kommissionen til at skride ind overfor den polske regerings overtrædelse af habitatdirektiverne,” forklarer Jaroslaw Krogulec.

DOF til Polens premierminister
Sammen med andre BidLife-organisationer støtter DOF de polske organisationers kamp for bevarelse af Europas sidste urskov, og har blandt skrevet direkte til den polske premierminister, Beata Szydlo, med en kraftig opfordring til at stoppe den ødelæggende skovhugst og respektere EU’s naturbeskyttelsesdirektiver.

Læs DOF brev til Polens premierminister

Den store britiske avis The Guardian har også fokus på sagen

Read more about Bialowieza in The Guardian

Towards seabird-safe fisheries, global efforts and solutions

wandering_alba.jpg(Stephanie Winnard & Berry Mulligan 29 June 2017)
The RSPB and BirdLife International have produced a new publication that presents some of the remarkable efforts fisheries have made on a global scale to tackle seabird bycatch.

Seabirds are one of the most threatened groups of animals in the world, with many species in decline to due being incidentally killed in fisheries.

They are caught and drowned on baited longline hooks and in nets, and are killed by collisions with trawl cables. It’s estimated over 100,000 albatross meet this grisly fate every year.

However this doesn’t have to be the case. Simple and inexpensive measures already exist that can be highly effective in preventing seabird deaths, and others are still in experimental stages but have shown great promise.

Some fisheries have already reduced deaths by over 80%, demonstrating the scale of potential success.

The RSPB and BirdLife International have produced a new publication that presents some of the remarkable efforts fisheries have made on a global scale to tackle this problem; from saving turtles in Peru to Black-browed Albatross in Namibia.

These stories demonstrate that collaboration between fishers, scientists and decision makers can lead to practical solutions that will ultimately turn the tide for many of these seabird species.

This booklet is a resource for the fishing industry to inform them of the measures they can take to avoid seabird deaths, and to inspire them to take action to improve the sustainability of global fisheries.

It would not have been possible to create this resource without the generous support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

How we’re saving the kings of the ocean

wandering_albatross.jpg(Stephanie Winnard 22 June 2017)

It has been another busy year for the Albatross Task Force, and our teams have made good progress in reducing the bycatch of vulnerable seabirds in some of the world’s most deadly fisheries

Albatrosses are one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world, with 15 of 22 species currently at risk of extinction. One of the major causes of their decline is being caught accidentally as bycatch on baited longline hooks or struck by trawl cables and dragged under the water.

Horrifyingly it’s estimated that around 100,000 albatross die every year in longline and trawl fisheries around the globe. For birds that are long-lived yet slow to breed, these deaths have lead to huge population declines with some colonies having halved in size since the 1990’s.

To combat these needless deaths the Albatross Task Force was set up in 2006 to find solutions to this problem, and work with fisheries and governments to save the albatross. Over the last 12 months the team has made good progress towards saving vulnerable seabirds in some of the world’s most deadly fisheries, the details of which are in our new report.

8/10 of our high priority fisheries now have regulations in place to protect seabirds, following an announcement from Argentina that seabird regulations are to be introduced by May 2018 that will require trawlers to use bird-scaring lines.

The benefit for seabirds in Argentina will be huge, as the main trawl fleet is responsible for the death of 13,500 black-browed albatross per year, an impact we expect to reduce by over 85% based on our experimental results.

Across the Atlantic in Namibia, since seabird regulations came into force there, 100% of trawl and demersal longline vessels have now been provisioned with bird-scaring lines, constructed through our collaboration with a local women’s group, Meme Itumbapo.

By next year we hope to show that Namibia has achieved significant bycatch reductions similar to South Africa where we documented a 99% reduction in albatross deaths in the trawl fishery following the introduction of bird-scaring lines. This will be a major win for albatross, as our estimates for the two Namibian fleets suggest in excess of 25,000 seabirds were previously killed annually.

Our work in small scale fisheries has also leapt forward over the last 12 months; in Chile we have shown that modifications to purse-seine net design has the potential to reduce shearwater bycatch massively, and in Peru trials of net lights have virtually eliminated bycatch of not just seabirds, but also turtles and marine mammals.

This is all hugely exciting as no mitigation measures previously existed for these types of fisheries.

All of these successes have only been possible due to the collaborative efforts between our in country partners, the RSPB and BirdLife International, plus generous funding from RSPB membership, external sponsors and many kind individual donations.

We are extremely thankful for the continued support we receive, without which we wouldn’t be able to keep up the fight to save the albatross.

Ber norske kommuner stanse bruken av vannscootere


(Martin Eggen 15 juni 2017)

NOF sendte nylig brev til samtlige norske kommuner der vi ber om at kjøring med vannscooter forbys eller reguleres svært strengt. Hensynet til sårbart fugleliv ligger bak appellen. Når staten svikter, må kommunene skjerme naturen for de groveste tilfellene av forstyrrelser.

Kan bli forbud i mange kommuner
18. mai i år ble vannscootere sidestilt med fritidsbåter, og vil dermed kunne brukes på lik linje med dem i de fleste områder. Sidestillingen er et resultat av at Forskrift om bruk av vannscooter o.l. ble opphevet. Siden den gang har det rådet stor usikkerhet rundt kommunenes mulighet til å sette hensynet til fugle- og dyreliv og friluftsliv foran interessene til noen få fartsglade mennesker. Klima- og miljøminister Vidar Helgesen bekrefter i Dagsavisen at kommunene har anledning til dette.

«Etter motorferdsloven kan du forby bruk av vannscooter i vassdrag. Du kan også bruke de lokale reguleringene etter havne- og farvannsloven. Det kan innebære forbud» ifølge Helgesen.

Til stor skade for fuglelivet

Høyt støynivå, stor fart og brå retningsforandringer er karakteristikker som gjør at vannscootere påfører langt mer forstyrrelser enn de fleste båter. Siden de i stor grad blir brukt til lek, vil de oppholde seg i et begrenset område over tid. Forstyrrelsen kommer dermed igjen og igjen. Vannscootere kan holde stor fart også på grunt vann, i motsetning til de fleste andre farkoster. Enkelte vannscootere kan til og med kjøre korte strekninger land.

Nødvendigheten av regulering av vannscootere må sees i sammenheng med andre forstyrrelsesfaktorer norske sjø- og vannfugler utsettes for. Vannscooterkjøring utgjør en belastning på allerede hardt prøvede fuglebestander. Befolkningsøkning og et mer aktivt friluftsliv vil gi mer forstyrrelser dersom målrettede reguleringer og tiltak ikke iverksettes.

En av artene som vil kunne påvirkes negativt er siland og ærfugl (sistnevnte nær truet på norsk rødliste 2015). Artenes utbredelse strekker seg langs det meste av den norske kystlinja, og ungekull vil være utsatte ved vannscooterkjøring nær land. Mange svaner, gjess og ender er dessuten ute av stand til å fly deler av sommeren pga. fjærskifte (myting). Kollisjonsfaren er reell. I verste fall risikerer man at fuglene skyr visse områder.

Kommunene må ta ansvar

Den nasjonale forskriften som nå er opphevet ivaretok flere viktige hensyn til fuglelivet, men langt fra alle. Forbudssonene (generelle nær land og tilknyttet verneområder) kom hensynet til fugler langt på vei i møte, og forhindrer omfattende negativ innvirkning på arter, inkludert truede og sårbare arter. Men også denne forskriften hadde store svakheter. Lovverket skjermet ikke myteområder for andefugler, eller andre ansamlinger av fugler lenger ut fra land. Flere sjøfuglarter og marine dykkender på nasjonal og global rødliste er blant dem som er sårbare for en slik type forstyrrelse. Havelle (sårbar på global rødliste, nær truet på nasjonal rødliste) og sjøorre (sårbar på global og nasjonal rødliste) er eksempler på slike arter.

Nå er det opp til kommunene å ta ansvar. Martin Eggen, naturvernrådgiver i NOF, oppfordrer til å ta kontakt med politikere i kommunene, slik at et forbud fremmes politisk dersom ikke slike prosesser allerede er i gang. «Selv om det er krevende å få på plass en passende regulering i samtlige av landets kommuner, er håpet at vi mange steder kan se en innskjerping i regelverket for bruken av vannscootere, også i forhold til tidligere”.

En slik utvikling vil være gledelig. NOF har jobbet mot vannscooterkjøring i lengre tid, og vil også i fortsettelsen jobbe for en kunnskapsbasert forvaltning til beste for norske fuglebestander.

Les vårt brev til kommunene.

Blyammunition bör förbjudas!

(BIrdlife.se 15 juni 2017; Foto: Tomas Lundquist)

Frågan om bly i jaktammunition har diskuterats alltsedan blyets allvarliga effekter för människor och djur blev uppenbara. Nyligen publicerades ännu en vetenskaplig artikel där allvarliga konsekvenser för kungsörnar konstateras. Påverkan, och därmed dödsrisken, är större under älgjakten.

Tillsammans med Naturskyddsföreningen och Världsnaturfonden har BirdLife Sverige skrivit ett brev till Landsbygdsminister Sven-Erik Bucht (jaktfrågor hanteras under Näringsdepartementet) och Miljöminister Karolina Skog, där vi yrkar att Regeringen snarast möjligt inleder processen för att införa ett förbud mot användning av bly i jaktammunition.

Argumenten för ett förbud av blyammunition är många. Som motargument brukar nämnas att alternativ ammunition saknas (vissa kalibrar) eller att den inte är lika effektiv. Erfarenheter från Danmark, där totalförbud för blyammunition råder sedan år 2000, visar emellertid att alternativen är (minst) lika bra och att blyammunition kan fasas ut framgångsrikt.

Genom att återigen väcka frågan hoppas vi kunna skapa opinion, inte minst inför valet nästa år, för att Sverige ska följa Danmarks exempel och stoppa en av de mest omfattande spridningarna av en tungmetall i den svenska naturen.’

Läs artikeln i original här

Brevet till Regeringen kan laddas ner här (Pdf 0,3 MB).

Wind farms are hardly the bird slayers they’re made out to be—here’s why

(Simon Chapman 16 June 2017)

People who oppose wind farms often claim wind turbine blades kill large numbers of birds, often referring to them as “bird choppers”. And claims of dangers to iconic or rare birds, especially raptors, have attracted a lot of attention.

Wind turbine blades do indeed kill birds and bats, but their contribution to total bird deaths is extremely low, as these three studies show.

A 2009 study using US and European data on bird deaths estimated the number of birds killed per unit of power generated by wind, fossil fuel and nuclear power systems.

It concluded, “Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh.”

That’s nearly 15 times more. From this, the author estimated that wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fuelled power plants 14.5 million.

In other words, for every one bird killed by a wind turbine, nuclear and fossil fuel powered plants killed 2,118 birds.

A Spanish study involved daily inspections of the ground around 20 wind farms with 252 turbines from 2005 to 2008. It found 596 dead birds.

The turbines in the sample had been working for different times during the study period (between 11 and 34 months), with the average annual number of fatalities per turbine being just 1.33. The authors noted this was one of the highest collision rates reported in the world research literature.

Raptor collisions accounted for 36% of total bird deaths (214 deaths), most of which were griffon vultures (138 birds, 23% of total mortality). The study area was in the southernmost area of Spain near Gibraltar, which is a migratory zone for birds from Morocco into Spain.

Perhaps the most comprehensive report was published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology in 2013 by scientists from Canada’s Environment Canada, Wildlife Research Division.

Read more