It has been a deeply challenging year. The pandemic has continued to cause enormous suffering while floods and fires across our continent this summer showed that climate crisis is biting hardл
the scale of the threat facing nature was illustrated by two reports this autumn confirming that one in five European bird species were at risk of extinction while there are now 600 million fewer birds in the European Union and the UK than there were forty years ago.
Sadly, the political response is still falling short. The negotiations to secure a new global biodiversity framework have been once again delayed and political progress in translating these commitments into national policies and laws (for example, see here and here) appear once again to be derailed by a failure to adequately address the primary driver of decline – agriculture policy. The Glasgow Climate Pact was probably the best deal that was politically achievable but based on national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, projected warming by 2100 could still be as much as 2.4°C (above pre-industrial levels) which, of course, exceeds the 1.5°C target beyond which catastrophic consequences are predicted.
Yet, despite everything, BirdLife partners in Europe and Central Asia have achieved some amazing things this year (both together and as individual organisations). We are happy and proud that BSPB’s accomplishments have been mentioned amongst them.
- The UN Human Rights Council voted unanimously in favour of introducing a new human right: the right to a healthy environment. This fantastic success is the result of more than a year of advocacy work by BirdLife’s #1Planet1Right campaign.
- Massive new Marine Protected Area. A major seabird hotspot in the North Atlantic high seas used by up to 5 million birds was discovered. This area is now a Marine Protected Area called NACES – the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Seamount and is approximately the same size as all of France. This is the first time that a Marine Protected Area in the high seas has been designated based on tracking data.
- Natuurpunt reported successful breeding of the Common Crane in the ‘Vallei van de Zwarte Beek’ nature reserve. They are the first in Flanders in over 400 years thanks to a large-scale peatland restoration in the nature reserve by Natuurpunt.
- BSPB reported a new nesting colony of the endangered Dalmatian Pelican was settled in Bulgaria in the Kalimok Complex. A wooden platform was built and three life-size models of pelicans were installed to attract the interest of real birds and encourage them to adopt the platform as their home. On the 23rd of April 2021, a total of 14 birds were found there – three of them occupying the nests.
- For more than 2 years, the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) has fought to prevent turning the protected islets of the South Aegean Sea into platforms for the erection of hundreds of wind turbines, right at the “heart” of one of the last refuges for biodiversity in Europe. Despite the challenges and difficulties, HOS succeeded.
- The Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO) reported that thanks to the CSO dog unit, a bird poisoner was found guilty and sentenced to 2.5 years in jail.
- After a fifteen year effort, Macedonia Ecological Society was delighted that the Osogovo Mountains was declared a protected area – the largest in the eastern part of the country.
This is a small part of our success in 2021. You can read the full article with the accomplishments of the BirdLife partners here, and we will continue our work with the hope that 2022 will bring us even more amazing success stories.