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Last Updated: Monday, 8 November, 2004, 10:42 GMT
Pressure on Europe's bird species
Northern lapwing (Andy Hay/RSPB Images)
Northern lapwing numbers have fallen in recent years (Image: Andy Hay/RSPB Images)
More than 200 of Europe's bird species - including 70 in the UK - face an uncertain future, a study has warned.

Northern lapwing, corn bunting and house sparrows were among the species at risk, Birdlife International said.

It found 226 species - 43% of Europe's total - were threatened by intensive agriculture and changes in climate.

Forty-five species had declined in the past 10 years and a number could disappear soon without action, the coalition of groups said.

The report, Birds In Europe, was unveiled to a European conference on biodiversity, in the Netherlands, on Monday.

"This is a review of all of Europe's birds and it is the first time it has been done for 10 years," said Dr Mark Avery from Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a Birdlife International partner.

"It shows the situation is getting worse. Four out of every 10 birds is threatened and that's an extra 43 species from 10 years ago," he told BBC News.

"We're seeing more and more species getting into trouble and that tells us we're not living sustainably on our continent."

Recent recovery

Mike Rands, BirdLife International's director, added: "The fact that more birds in Europe face an uncertain future compared with a decade ago is deeply worrying.

"Birds are excellent environmental indicators and the continued decline of many species sends a clear signal about the health of Europe's wildlife and the poor state of our environment."

White-tailed Eagle (Chris Gomersall/RSPB Images)
White-tailed eagle: A bird that is doing better (Image: Chris Gomersall/RSPB Images )
The report looked at birds that occur regularly in Europe.

Species it said were facing extinction included the sociable lapwing, a wader which breeds only in south-west Russia and Kazakhstan, the Mediterranean shearwater, a seabird from the Balearic Islands, and the Azores bullfinch that lives only on one small island in the Atlantic.

However, the report also found some bird species, including Audouin's gull, the Eurasian griffon and the white-tailed eagle, had recently shown population recovery because of better protection.

Global picture

The EU has promised to try to halt the decline of wildlife in Europe by 2010, but Birdlife said there was still much work to be done.

Last month, a report highlighted the difficulties experienced by North America's birds.

The National Audubon Society's State Of The Birds report said more than 30% of region's bird populations were in "significant decline".

Birdlife's own State Of The World's Birds 2004 report, released in March, called for simple conservation steps to be carried through by governments.

Of the 1,211 bird species recognised as globally threatened (an eighth of the world's recorded avian species), it said 24% had begun to gain from action to help them, with the benefit to 4% regarded as significant.

Reasons for the decline in birdlife

Decline hits North American birds
20 Oct 04 |  Science/Nature
'Biggest birds' hatch UK comeback
25 Apr 04 |  Science/Nature
Corncrake enjoys resurgence
20 Aug 04 |  Science/Nature
Many threatened birds 'need help'
08 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature


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