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Conference aims to preserve birds of prey

Birds of prey have been hard-hit by a variety of human induced threats including loss of habitat, persecution, illegal shooting and poisoning. Collisions with TV masts and wind turbines and electrocution on power lines have also added to population declines. Birds of prey are not prolific breeders which makes it hard for them to recover from losses and scientists believe that climate change will only add to the problems. Their position at the top of their food chain means they are an excellent indicator of the health of the ecosystem but unless there is an effort across borders and continents to help them their future looks bleak.

A conference aimed at saving some of the world's most majestic birds of prey begins in Scotland today.

Experts from more than 60 countries will try to hammer out an agreement aimed at preserving endangered birds in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Eagles, falcons, harriers, kites, buzzards and ospreys are among the 70 species which would benefit from such an international deal.

The aim of the conference in Loch Lomond is to bring together expertise from around the world to monitor and protect birds and raise funds for future conservation.

Joint action by countries along their migration routes is seen as critical to their survival.

In 2005, an independent study commissioned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that more than half of the birds likely to be covered by the agreement were under threat and some were showing signs of rapid or long-term decline.

The search for a binding international agreement which would promote more effective conservation has been led jointly by the UK government and the United Arab Emirates.

The experts will discuss the geographical boundaries of the agreement, the species to be covered, and whether or not... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A conference aimed at saving some of the world's most majestic birds of prey begins in Scotland today.

Experts from more than 60 countries will try to hammer out an agreement aimed at preserving endangered birds in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Eagles, falcons, harriers, kites, buzzards and ospreys are among the 70 species which would benefit from such an international deal.

The aim of the conference in Loch Lomond is to bring together expertise from around the world to monitor and protect birds and raise funds for future conservation.

Joint action by countries along their migration routes is seen as critical to their survival.

In 2005, an independent study commissioned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that more than half of the birds likely to be covered by the agreement were under threat and some were showing signs of rapid or long-term decline.

The search for a binding international agreement which would promote more effective conservation has been led jointly by the UK government and the United Arab Emirates.

The experts will discuss the geographical boundaries of the agreement, the species to be covered, and whether or not it should be legally binding. The agreement is expected to be finalised at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates in 2008.

Birds of prey have been hard-hit by a variety of human induced threats including loss of habitat, persecution, illegal shooting and poisoning. Collisions with TV masts and wind turbines and electrocution on power lines have also added to population declines.

Birds of prey are not prolific breeders which makes it hard for them to recover from losses and scientists believe that climate change will only add to the problems.

Their position at the top of their food chain means they are an excellent indicator of the health of the ecosystem but unless there is an effort across borders and continents to help them their future looks bleak.

Under the proposed agreement there will be shared access to the collective scientific expertise on birds of prey conservation.

Funds raised under the agreement will be spent on the conservation of migratory birds of prey in the African-Eurasian region.

The agreement will be seen as evidence of the international community's commitment to conservation only a few years before the world assesses its performance in 2010 on reducing the rate of biodiversity loss.

The UK Climate Change and Biodiversity Minister, Joan Ruddock, who will be attending the conference, said: "There is no doubt these magnificent birds are under serious threat. Our commitment to their conservation is clear.

The Government has brought together experts from around the world to develop an agreement for their conservation. I have pledged an initial £10,000 towards the practical conservation work that an agreement will undertake.

"Such an agreement would build on current conservation efforts. In the UK we have had success at re-introducing the Red Kite in England and Scotland, the White-tailed Sea-eagle to Scotland, and are working to extend the range of the Osprey.

"The agreement would address the future problems that climate change will bring to these migratory birds, and has the potential to contribute to our objectives of halting the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010."

Professor Colin Galbraith, Director of Policy and Advice in Scottish Natural Heritage and Chairman of the Conference said: "Migratory birds of prey include some of the most threatened species worldwide and their populations are excellent indicators of the state of the wider environment.

"This meeting provides a unique opportunity for governments and other organisations to come together to address some of the key issues affecting birds of prey, including persecution, habitat destruction and the long term effects of pollution. I am confident that the meeting will lead to a new conservation plan for these species in the 21st century."


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Examples of migratory birds of prey which could be helped by this agreement:

Osprey - its main UK stronghold is in Scotland. It recently began breeding in England at Bassenthwaite, Cumbria and a pair can be found in Wales in the Glaslyn valley. The fish-eating Osprey arrive back from Africa in late March and April, leaving again in August and September.

Merlin - belongs to the family of falcons and is the UK's smallest bird of prey. The UK breeding population is thinly scattered across upland moorland from south-west England north to Shetland. Birds leave their upland breeding areas between August and October, when northern European birds also arrive here, some from Iceland. They return again in April and May. They eat small birds and insects.

Montagu's Harrier - a rare visitor to Britain which migrates to continental Europe from Africa. It is possible to see them on passage, particularly on the south and eastern coasts of England, between May and August. They eat small birds, voles, shrews, rabbits, lizards and insects.

Northern Hobby - a spectacular falcon that catches large insects and small birds in flight, particularly swallows, martins and swifts. Now breeds across central, southern and eastern England, into south Wales and just about reaching north England and southern Scotland. Arrives in the UK from April onwards and mainly leaves in September and October. Winters in Southern Africa.

Eleonora's Falcon - a rare bird of prey that migrates all the way from Madagascar to breed in the Mediterranean during the summer.

Honey Buzzard - these birds nest in southern and eastern England, Wales, northern England and northern Scotland. It is a summer visitor to its breeding sites and spends the winter in Africa. The nest sites of British breeding birds are usually kept secret to protect them from egg collectors. The Honey buzzard eats mainly insect larvae of wasps and bees.

Red Kite - at one time confined to Wales, a widespread reintroduction scheme has brought them back to many parts of England and Scotland. They eat carrion, worms and small mammals.


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...

OCT 22 2007
https://www.windaction.org/posts/11567-conference-aims-to-preserve-birds-of-prey
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