After a five year study of population data called The State of the World’s Birds, a biodiversity crisis has been revealed due to the expansion and intensification of agriculture.
The study concludes that once widespread birds such as the turtle dove, puffins and snowy owl are plummeting towards extinction.
The main threats are hunting and invasive species but 74% of 1,469 globally threatened birds are affected by farming.
‘After every assessment like this, we see slightly species at risk of extinction,’ says Tris Allinson – senior global science officer for Birdlife International who produced the report.
Human activity is thought to be blamed for at least 40% of bird species declining. The Atlantic puffin and the black-legged kittiwake, have been affected due to climate change and overfishing.
But there are conservation success stories, according to BirdLife, 25 bird species would have become extinct this century without conservation work. The Guam rail, which is classified as extinct in the wild has been bred in captivity.
Another reason for bird declines is logging – which is the destruction of trees - however the WWF and Wildlife Conservation Society are joining forces to plant, restore and protect one trillion trees by 2050, says the Trillion Trees project.
If we reduced our food waste and planted crops in the right area we could feed the world’s population and still leave enough room for birds and other wildlife. It would be a massive challenge but it is possible to conserve wildlife and use our landscapes more productively.