Science

The decline of city and field birds is confirmed

Birds of cities and fields see their populations collapsing because of human activities, alert scientists Monday, stressing the need for greener agricultural practices in full renegotiation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Between 1989 and 2019, volunteer ornithologists followed the evolution of the populations of 123 most common bird species in France, via the Temporary Monitoring of Common Birds (STOC) program, as they constitute a good indicator of the state. of nature.

In 2018, the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the CNRS sounded the alarm, speaking of a decline to “a level close to ecological disaster”.

Three years later, the MNHN, the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) and the Bird Protection League (LPO) are hardly more optimistic, with 43 species in decline, around 40 stable and 32 in expansion.

Familiar city birds, such as swallows and tree sparrows are “in sharp decline,” according to a statement. In question: “the increasingly strong artificialization”, pollution and renovations of buildings which deprive them of cavities in which to nest.

A swallow in Bourdeilles, Dordogne, in May 2018 (AFP / Archives – Nicolas TUCAT)

More generally “this so familiar fauna is in sharp decline: -28% fewer birds since 1989”.

The situation is worse for birds in agricultural environments, such as “the skylark and partridges, which have lost nearly a third of their numbers in 30 years”.

“The intensive agricultural model developed after the war and encouraged by the CAP is largely responsible for having caused the disappearance or transformation of their habitats and for having massively disseminated chemicals, including pesticides”, “in particular neonicotinoids”.

In the forest, the situation is less bad with a drop in numbers of 10% in 30 years.

A robin, February 10, 2021 in Illiers-Combray, in Eure-et-Loir (AFP / Archives - JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

A robin, February 10, 2021 in Illiers-Combray, in Eure-et-Loir (AFP / Archives – JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

Birds are also having to contend with climate change.

To fight against their decline, several things have proved their worth such as nature reserves or “conditional financial aid + green scenarios + which must be developed in the project of the new Common Agricultural Policy”.

The LPO, the MNHN and the OFB also demand “the end of the massive and unreasonable use of pesticides, effective support for agroecology, a reduction in the artificialization of soils (…), a support for the national strategy of protected areas “.

A blue tit, January 19, 2021 in Hede-Bazouges, Ille-et-Vilaine (AFP / Archives - Damien MEYER)

A blue tit, January 19, 2021 in Hede-Bazouges, Ille-et-Vilaine (AFP / Archives – Damien MEYER)

The researchers warn against the “false good news” of the increase in populations of certain more adaptable species, such as the wood pigeon or the blue tit: it “in fact reveals a standardization of wildlife”.

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