Naturalists set up 'air traffic control' network to save birds

A A A

Naturalists are to set up a global "air traffic control" network to protect the nesting and feeding sites of tens of millions of endangered migratory birds.

Naturalists are to set up a global "air traffic control" network to protect the nesting and feeding sites of tens of millions of endangered migratory birds.

Ornithologists are alarmed by fresh evidence that dozens of geese, wader and duck species now setting off on their annual migration south are facing extinction or, at best, a steep decline in numbers.

Some migratory birds face imminent extinction, such as the sociable lapwing, which flies from the Russian steppe to the Middle East. Others, like the red knot, which migrates the full length of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, are facing extreme and sudden decline.

Many of Britain's best-loved waders - such as the oystercatcher and ringed plover - have declined by up to 15 per cent since the 1980s. The Greenland white-fronted goose, which nests in summer in northern Britain and Ireland, is also dying out.

Now, in a concerted attempt to tackle the crisis, conservationists met in Edinburgh last week to begin drawing up the first world-wide tracking and planning system to protect the "air lanes", nesting sites and feeding places these birds use. Dr David Stroud, senior ornithologist at the UK's main conservation science agency, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, said: "It's not a pretty picture at the moment.

"These birds are flying long distances as part of their biological cycle, but they need fuel and Britain's estuaries, for instance, are of major importance. Clearly, if you remove a key feeding site, these birds just don't have the physical ability to continue their migration. If you remove one link, then the whole migratory pattern can fall apart."

Last month, experts meeting in Spain heard that almost half of all the world's wader species, such as the long-billed plover, the dunlin and the bristle-thighed curlew, which flies non-stop from Alaska to the south Pacific, were in decline owing to human pressures, climate change and habitat loss.

The "air traffic control" proposal will focus on the world's nine major "flyways", by asking countries to monitor the numbers and types of birds flying through their airspace, plot their flight paths and protect or repair their nesting, breeding and feeding grounds. In some cases, governments will have to set up schemes to track poorly understood species - potentially using satellites and tagging techniques.

The scheme will provoke clashes over economic developments. One battle ground is Iceland's decision to build a massive hydro-electric dam at Karahnjukar, which will destroy the breeding sites of pink-footed and greylag geese. Despite being a major staging post in the "east Atlantic flyway" - which takes more than 90 million water birds from the Arctic through Europe to southern Africa - Iceland has refused to join a European and African scheme to protect migratory birds. And in South Korea, naturalists are furious at plans to reclaim a 155 sq mile inter-tidal wetland which could kill off the extremely rare spoon-billed sandpiper. The site is a crucial feeding place on the "East Asian-Australasian flyway" that runs from the Arctic to Australia and the south Pacific.

In the US, controversy surrounds the horseshoe crab fishery in Delaware Bay, a key feeding place on the "Atlantic flyway", which is blamed for a sudden decline in red knot numbers. The bird feeds on the crab's eggs but the crab is being chronically overfished.

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments