15/04/2021

Puffins, Swifts And Kestrels Move To Red List

Puffins, swifts and kestrels are among 23 birds that have been moved on to the Red list across Ireland, according to a new study.

The 'Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (BoCCI) 2020-2026' review is jointly compiled by RSPB NI and BirdWatch Ireland.

The review uses a 'traffic light' system to indicate the conservation status of bird species by placing them on three lists – Red (high conservation concern), Amber (medium conservation concern) or Green (low conservation concern).

The study's findings show that a quarter of bird species on the island are now Red-listed.

Of the 211 species studied, BoCCI has placed 54 (25.6%) on the Red list - more birds than ever before - 79 (37.4%) on the Amber list and 78 (37%) on the Green list).

There has been a further catastrophic decline in wading birds, with six more species (including snipe) joining the Red list. Lapwings are another wading bird that has suffered declines.

When grouped by habitat, upland (50%) and farmland (35%) birds have the highest proportions of Red-listed species. Swifts are now Red-listed due to a decline in their breeding population.

The BoCCI report was written by Gillian Gilbert and Andrew Stanbury (both RSPB) and by Lesley Lewis (BirdWatch Ireland).
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Gillian Gilbert, RSPB NI Principal Conservation Scientist, said: "It is extremely alarming to see a quarter of bird species on the island of Ireland now on the Red List.

"It's sad to see swifts and kestrels, among other species, facing such declines, while anyone who has visited the Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre will know and love the puffins, kittiwakes and razorbills on the sea stacks and should rightly be concerned that they are now on the Red list.

"Because these seabirds are doing poorly across Europe and indeed across the world, this makes the birds we have across the island of Ireland crucially important and we need to do everything we can to protect them.

"Natural ecosystems globally face a myriad of pressures including climate change, habitat loss and pollution, but this report shows how nature here is in trouble. Therefore, support for our work and our campaigns calling for targets in law to revive our world are more important than ever."

Lesley Lewis of BirdWatch Ireland added: "Sadly, the results of this review only go to further show how great the biodiversity crisis is. We really are at a tipping point for our birds and we need to act now.

"We need a combined multilateral approach from all sectors including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with a strong lead from governments.

"We know from many locally-led projects that habitat protection, restoration and creation can make huge differences, so there is hope that the current trends can be reversed; if not, what will the next assessment in five years show?"

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