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Threatened birds indicate the consequences of unchecked infrastructure development

Construction site in China: it is predicted that in 25 years time over 70% of the Earth’s land surface will have been impacted by infrastructure development. © Linqong/Dreamstime.com

Ongoing infrastructure development—encompassing residential and commercial growth, energy production, mining, transport and dams—poses a serious threat to the world’s birds. Residential and commercial development is having the greatest impact, affecting nearly 30% of all threatened species, with a high proportion in Asian–Pacific countries.


Number of globally threatened bird species impacted by infrastructure development

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2012).

It is predicted that by 2032 over 70% of the Earth’s land surface will have been impacted by infrastructure development (UNEP 2002). Unless this expansion is better controlled and planned than at present, it will cause a substantial increase in environmental problems relating to habitats, biodiversity, food production, freshwater resources and health. Latin America and the Caribbean are forecast to be the hardest hit, with more than 80% of the land significantly affected, but the rapidly developing Asia–Pacific region follows close behind, with more than 75% of land area predicted to be affected in this way (UNEP 2002).

The most significant threat to birds comes from urbanization, which is affecting 249 species (19% of threatened birds), but mining/quarrying and roads/railroads are also threatening developments, impacting 174 (13%) and 156 (12%) threatened species respectively. Urban development is occurring most rapidly in Asia (ESCAP 2007) and as a consequence this region holds a very high number of species threatened by residential and commercial development (31% of all species so affected).



Related Case Studies in other sections

References

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2007) Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2007. United Nations, New York, USA.
 
UNEP (2002) Global Environment Outlook 3. London: Earthscan.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008, 2012

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2012) Threatened birds indicate the consequences of unchecked infrastructure development. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/146. Checked: 25/10/2014