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Safeguarding India's Bird Diversity: State of India's Birds.



  Oct 17, 2023

Conserving India’s Avian Diversity: Insights from the State of India’s Birds (SoIB) Report



Introduction:

India’s rich biodiversity is home to a diverse avian population, playing a crucial role in ecological balance and signaling the health of our ecosystems.
Recent findings from the State of India’s Birds (SoIB) report have highlighted significant insights into the conservation of these feathered inhabitants.

Key Insights from SoIB:

The SoIB report, based on over 30 million bird observations from birdwatchers on eBird, reveals important trends:

Habitat-Specific Decline: While 39% of assessed bird species have experienced a decline in the past decade, the decline varies by habitat type.

Open Natural Ecosystems: Birds native to open natural ecosystems, including scrublands, grasslands, deserts, and arid landscapes, have shown notable declines. These habitats often face the challenges of overzealous plantation drives and inappropriate greening efforts.

Rivers as Breeding Sites: River ecosystems are essential for various bird species, both as feeding grounds and breeding sites. However, birds like Little ringed plover and Small pratincole, which breed around riverbanks and sandbars, have experienced sharp declines, signifying the degradation of natural river states.

Coastal Bird Decline: Coastal bird populations, including Curlew sandpiper, Whimbrel, Terek sandpiper, and Lesser sand plover, have also shown declines. Threats to coastal areas include land use changes for ports, encroachment, and aquaculture.

Conservation Implications:

The SoIB findings offer vital guidance for conservation efforts:

Recognizing Open Habitats: Open natural ecosystems should be recognized and conserved as they are, ensuring they remain “open” rather than being converted into forests.

Careful Plantation Drives: Plantation sites should be chosen with ecological expertise, preventing the conversion of natural areas into forest-style plantations.

Restoration of Neglected Habitats: The decline of birds in specific habitats highlights the need to prioritize and restore these habitats that may not receive adequate conservation attention.

Government Collaboration: Multiple government ministries, including those of new and renewable energy, jal shakti, housing and urban affairs, and rural development, should collaborate to factor ecology into planning and meet biodiversity commitments.

In an era of data-driven decision-making, tools like the Mapping Your Neighbourhood Avifauna (MYNA) app by SoIB provide valuable information for better conservation strategies. The protection of avian diversity is not only crucial for the bird population but also for maintaining the balance of ecosystems and fulfilling our commitments to biodiversity conservation.

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