Birds in cities and fields are seeing their population decline due to human activities, scientists warn on Monday, stressing the need for greener farming practices in the full negotiation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Between 1989 and 2019, volunteer ornithologists monitored the evolution of populations of 123 most common bird species in France, through the Temporary Monitoring of Common Birds (STOC) program, as they represent a good indicator of the state of nature.
In 2018, the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the CNRS sounded the alarm, talking about falling to a “level close to an environmental disaster”.
Three years later, MNHN, the French Office for Biological Diversity (OFB) and the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) are barely more optimistic, with 43 species in decline, about 40 stable and 32 in expansion.
Famous city birds, such as swallows and sparrows, are “in a sharp decline,” the statement said. In question: “increasingly powerful art”, pollution and renovation of buildings that deprive them of cavities in which they can nest.
In general, “this well-known fauna is in sharp decline: -28% fewer birds since 1989.”
The situation is worse for birds in agricultural areas, such as “locusts and partridges, which have lost almost a third of their numbers in 30 years.”
“The intensive agricultural model developed after the war and fueled by the CAP is largely responsible for the causes of the disappearance or transformation of their habitats and for the mass proliferation of chemicals, including pesticides,” “especially neonicotinoids”.
In the forest, the situation is less bad with a drop in numbers of 10% in 30 years.
Birds also have to fight climate change.
In the fight against their decline, several have proven to be such as nature reserves or “conditional financial assistance + green scenarios + that must be developed in the project of the new Common Agricultural Policy”.
LPO, MNHN and OFB also demand “an end to the mass and unreasonable use of pesticides, effective support for agroecology, reduction of soil art (…), support for the national strategy of protected areas”.
Researchers warn of “false good news” about the increase in populations of some more adaptable species, such as the forest pigeon or the blue tit: it “actually reveals the standardization of wildlife.”