BirdLife Europe e-news, Vol XII, Issue 8, September 2015
In this issue
Losing life

By Luca Bonaccorsi

The good news is that more than ¾ of Europeans believe it is important to stop the loss of biodiversity. The bad news is… they do not know what it is.

These are just some of the startling findings of the special edition Eurobarometer “Attitudes of Europeans towards biodiversity” released last week (and largely ignored by the media). This is clearly food for thought for an organisaton such as BirdLife, which has the protection of biodiversity as its core goal. But there’s more in the Survey. 

According to the survey, most Europeans (70%) are not simply ignorant of what biodiversity is (39% have never heard of it; believe it or not this includes 2/3 of Germans), but also think that the loss of biodiversity will affect them directly (35%) or affect ‘someone else’ (33%) in some distant future. Less than ¼ realise that they are being affected now, as we speak. It should come as no surprise then, that 60% of citizens think that institutions should do more to inform them. 

Also, while most of them acknowledge the problem, they think it’s “far away from home”: only 35% think it’s a problem in Europe, 30% in their home country and only 19% in the area where they live. Basically, we all think that nature is doing poorly… somewhere else. We know the loss of biodiversity is a problem, but it’s not very clear what it is, and it’s certainly more serious in far away places on the planet.
Of course there is also more ‘reassuring’ news in the survey. Apparently, we are all on ‘alert’ for the threat to nature. And we all know it’s our fault: pollution, the pillage of our seas and the senseless exploitation of our natural resources. Most of us feel the ‘responsibility’ and 60% believe that our health and well-being depends on nature. All good pre-conditions for change. 

Unfortunately, despite all good intentions, biodiversity is collapsing: the festival of life, the amazing variety of species that inhabit our planet (a beacon in this rather cold, lifeless and dark universe) is declining fast. The lights on the show of life keep dimming. And it’s happening here, in Europe, and probably exactly in the area where we live or, extensively, in the rural area next door where the food we consume is produced. 

Biodiversity, sadly, is not a technical definition of an aspect of life: it is life. And we are losing it.
Europe is at a crossroads, the mid-term assessment of the European biodiversity strategy published last week by the Commission says we keep losing our nature. The Commission is also evaluating our main pieces of legislation to defend natural life, the Birds and Habitats Directives. We have a chance, here and now, to turn the tide. We don’t need new laws: we need funds and law enforcement. We need our institutions to understand that we care. We will shout it loudly, again and again. 

Biodiversity, life, can be saved. We work for that every day, come rain or shine.

That’s what our newsletter is about this month. 
Special features

The dark side of Star Wars
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have landed in Skellig Michael, a remote, rocky island off the Irish coast, home to thousands of seabirds.
What happens when Storm-petrels meet Storm-troopers on a movie set?  
By Niall Hatch
PS. May the Force be with the birds 
Together, forward
BirdLife's Partners from Europe and Central Asia meet in Bulgaria, at the end of the month, for their bi-annual gathering. We will share successes, objectives and plans for: Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, Migratory Birds and Flyways, Preventing Extinctions, Local Engagement and Empowerment. BirdLife in motion, in Sofia.
By Angelo Caserta, Regional Director
Policy news

Looking back: why is Europe failing to save its biodiversity by 2020?

In 2010 the EU adopted a 10 year strategy to stop the loss of natural life. Halfway to 2020, we assess the (many) failures and the (few) successes in EU's environmental policies. In brief? It's not working.
By Sanya Khetani-Shah
The greatest threat to European nature? Agriculture
More than half of European bird species use farmland habitats. Read how unsustainable farming is destroying life and why Member States are now calling agriculture the "single greatest threat to biodiversity". 
By Christina Ieronymidou and s.k.s 
Twenty years later: fishermen and NGOs finally 'in the same boat'
From hostility to cooperation: a tale of success in the difficult relationship between the fishing sector and conservationists. In the pursuit of that Holy Grail called 'sustainable fishing'. 
By Euan Dunn
New invasive species law likely to miss savings of billions of euros for the EU
Invasive alien species cause not only bird extinctions, but also economic damage. Unfortunately, the new regulation does not seem up to scratch. 
By Carles Carboneras
EU's new strategy in Africa will be 'Larger than elephants'. It's a promise 
The new strategy to protect African wildlife aims to tackle illegal killing and trade, habitat loss and extinctions of animals and birds, as well as another problem that has been flying under the radar. 
By Marion Klein and Kate Hand
Looking forward: Europe's to-do-list to protect biodiversity
Enforce the Nature Directives, fund nature, stop unsustainable agriculture... With only five years to go, here's what the EU and Member States must do to prevent the further loss of species and ecosystems. s.k.s.
Over half of our animals and plants have gone extinct in the last 300 years. We must stop this before they all disappear.

Watch 5 alarming facts about the destruction of nature
Chapter 2 - Five alarming facts about nature
Other news from Europe and Central Asia

The Wadden Sea is in danger, says first-ever migration report of whole East Atlantic Flyway

This Natura 2000 and UNESCO World Heritage Site is used by 12 million migratory birds every year, but unlike the other species that use the flyway, their numbers are dropping. What's being done? s.k.s.

Rehabilitating old mines into havens of nature

The TESSA toolkit analyses benefits of different land uses to nature and the local community so decision-makers can pick the best one. It's being used to promote turning disused EU quarries into public parks and nature reserves. By Sanya Khetani-Shah and Michael MacDonald
Gran Sol may have 'plenty of fish in the sea', but its seabirds are declining
The area, located in the Atlantic Ocean of the coast of the UK, hosts about 50 fishing boats, so seabird bycatch is a worrying problem. Can SEO/BirdLife in Spain and BirdLife's Seabird Task Force find a solution? By Pep Arcos et al 

How Belgium is using the internet to find and get rid of invasive alien species

Natuurpunt (BirdLife in Flanders, Belgium) has collaborated with Natagora (BirdLife in Wallonia, Belgium) and the local governments in a great example of combining citizen science with on-the-ground action. By Wouter Vanreusel

Saving Macaronesia's biodiversity, 1 species at a time

The Macaronesian islands are an archipelago that represents 0.2% of EU territory but host over a quarter of the plant species listed in the Habitats Directive. Here's how SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) is protecting them. By Tânia Pipa

The numbers are in for Euro Birdwatch 2015

Read more on the staggering count of migratory birds from this year's autumn birdwatching festival, held on 3 and 4 October across 41 countries and 1.000 events in Europe and Central Asia. Plus, details on its rare species sightings. s.k.s.
PEGASUS - Sustainable land management from a different perspective
The PEGASUS project, of which BirdLife is a partner, will be working over 3 years to help change the way we manage farms and forests to better deliver goods and ecosystem services. Check out their website, their LinkedIn page and profile, or follow them on Twitter,  to stay updated on the project. t.r. 
7-9 October: International Corncrake Conference, Pilsen, Czech Republic.

9-10 October: Avifauna and Climate Change, ahead of COP 21, LPO and National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

14-15 October: Wetland Futures: "Bridging the conservation gap between freshwater, saltwater and transitional wetlands", Birmingham, UK 

19 October: Annual EEB Conference "A Reform agenda for a sustainable Europe", Flagey, Brussels.

21 October: The Ocean-Climate Nexus: "The critical role of ocean science in responding to climate change", Brussels.

26-30 October: Second World Seabird Conference "Seabirds: Global Ocean Sentinels", Cape Town, South Africa.

30 October-1 November: The Second International Symposium of Red Kite, Binaced, Spain.

9-14 November: Sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP6) to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), Bonn, Germany.

11 November: Third Ocean of Tomorrow Conference, Brussels.

17 November: Policy seminar by European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism, BirdLife Europe and Pogany Havanas "Europe’s wood pastures: condemned to a slow death by the CAP? A test case for EU agriculture and biodiversity policy", European Parliament, Brussels. 

23-25 November: Protecting Seabirds in the Mediterranean: Advancing the Marine Protected Area NetworkMalta.

30 November-6 December: International Conference on the Waterfowl of Northern Eurasia, Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenetskiy Autonomous Okrug, Russia. 

7 December: Maritime Spatial Planning Stakeholder conference on MSP and the Marine Environment, Brussels.

5-7 April, 2016: British Ornithologists' Union 2016 Annual Conference "Urban Birds: pressures, processes and consequences", Leicester, UK. Bookings open 1 November, 2015.

11-13 May, 2016: The European Association for Zoos and Aquaria Conservation Forum, BioParc Fuengirola, Spain. The forum is now accepting abstracts for oral presentations, workshops, round table topics, posters, short movies and documentaries.

5-10 September, 2016: 20th International Conference of the European Bird Census Council "Birds in a changing world", University of Halle (Saale), Germany. Abstract submissions open from 15 November, 2015.

1-10 September, 2016: IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawaii, USA. The Congress is now accepting submissions for hosting a workshop, Knowledge Café session or training course at the Congress.

Financial Controller: We are seeking an experienced professional accountant to take a leading role in our international finance team  in Camrbidge, the UK, overseeing financial operations across the 10 secretariat offices around the world. Closing date: 25 October, 2015.

Ecosystem Services Internship at BirdLife Americas Secretariat: BirdLife International’s Secretariat for the Americas, based in Quito, Ecuador, is offering an interesting internship opportunity, working with the regional team and projects implementing TESSA all over the continent. 

Fundraising Director: BirdLife International is looking to apppoint a new Fundraising Director.
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Responsible editor: Angelo Caserta
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