Conservation: An Eye on Endangered Species
Gibbon, Joanna, The Independent (London, England)
WITH migratory birds on the move to their winter habitats, bird enthusiasts may be unaware that it was the near demise of the Trumpeter swan and the Eskimo curlew which prompted in 1922 the creation of the first international conservation body, the International Council for Bird Preservation, recently renamed Birdlife International. "Migratory birds have been catalytic in forming co-operation between countries and Birdlife formed to further this," explains Dr Christoph Imboden, Birdlife's director-general.
Birdlife, which has voting partners from 65 countries around the world, including the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, has encouraged a change in perception of migratory birds. "They do not belong just to one country, you cannot take the selfish view that they are just yours," says Dr Imboden, who feels that migratory birds, while facing many dangers, are less globally at risk than some non-migratory species. "There are about 9,000 bird species in the world, 1,000 of which are classified as globally threatened - of this figure only about 100 are migratory," says Dr Imboden. Their advantage, he says, is that they have high population numbers and wide distribution areas, whereas some tropical birds - there are many more unique species in the tropics than anywhere else - have one small distribution area of perhaps a few kilometres.
Awareness and action, on a global scale, are Birdlife's aims. Until the late 1970s the organisation, staffed by amateur volunteers, acted as a co-ordinating body for like-minded people throughout the world to exchange ideas. Since 1980 it has geared up and now has offices in the United States, Ecuador, Indonesia and Belgium.
Its development programme is three-pronged: research, advocacy and field action, much of which takes place in developing countries because, says Dr Imboden, there is no point in duplicating the work of already effective conservation organisations in wealthier countries.
Their research, which provides information for worldwide bird organisations and agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, is highly accurate, says Dr Imboden, because birds are so well studied. "More is known about bird numbers, habitats, distribution than any other animal or plant," says Dr Imboden.
In their ongoing global biodiversity study they have been able to pinpoint priority areas for global conservation through studying the birds. Concentrating on areas rich in endemic species, those only occurring in one country and mainly living in tropical forests, Birdlife has found that birds are a sensitive indicator …
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Publication information: Article title: Conservation: An Eye on Endangered Species. Contributors: Gibbon, Joanna - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 2, 1993. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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