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Are we doing enough to save the world's birds?

The Marquesan Imperial-pigeon Ducula galeata was recently downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered after successful conservation action. Unfortunately, many other globally threatened species have received little or no conservation action or research. © Pete Morris.

Almost 7,000 priority actions have been proposed to help address the threats to the world’s threatened birds. In 2004, 67% of species had received some conservation attention (73% for those Critically Endangered); in 2008, 88% of Critically Endangered species are receiving conservation attention. The BirdLife Partnership has been involved in action for 42% of all threatened species and 51% of Critically Endangered species.


(a) Proportion of globally threatened bird species for which actions have been implemented

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2004)

Nearly 7,000 key actions have been proposed for the 1,226 species of globally threatened birds. When reviewed in 2004 an impressive 67% of species had had at least some actions implemented. This was determined from consultation with a world-wide network of over 100 species experts (see figure a). However, the full set of proposed actions had been undertaken for only 5% of threatened birds. Furthermore, for at least 17% no conservation action had been carried out at that time and this proportion may be as high as 33%, because many of the species where the action was classed as ‘unknown implementation’ probably had none. For the 182 species considered Critically Endangered in 2000, the proportions were similar: 73% received partial or complete implementation of actions, while 15–27% had received no action.


(b) Proportion of Critically Endangered bird species for which actions have been implemented

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2008)

Since these figures were compiled in 2004 the situation has improved: by 2008, 88% of Critically Endangered birds are receiving some conservation action; just 12% still haven’t had any conservation action or research (see figure b). This last group needs immediate intervention: these are species on the brink of extinction. Some simply remain too poorly known, some sadly may already be extinct, and others occur in places currently too insecure for conservation work. However, for the rest, such as Black-chinned Monarch Monarcha boanensis in Indonesia and White-chested White-eye Zosterops albogularis on Norfolk Island, Australia, urgent attention can and should be given.


(c) Proportion of globally threatened bird species for which actions have been implemented with contributions by the BirdLife Partnership (2004 data)

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2004)

The survey showed that actions for threatened birds were implemented by a wide range of governmental and non governmental organisations. The BirdLife International Partnership contributed to actions for 42% of threatened species (41% in 2004 and 51% in 2008 for Critically Endangered birds), with significant contributions for 17% (21% in 2004 and 23% in 2008 for Critically Endangered birds; figure c).



Related Species

Acknowledgements

Information kindly provided by 100+ species experts.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2008) Are we doing enough to save the world's birds?. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/213. Checked: 29/08/2014