A new study warns that the last remaining habitat for several endangered bird species in Europe could reduce by up to 50 per cent in the next century as farmers convert land to more profitable crops and meet increased demand for products such as olive oil and wine.
Low intensive agricultural practices created semi-natural agro-steppes that hold important populations of great bustards, little bustards, lesser kestrels, rollers and other at risk bird species. In the early 2000s several of these sites were designated as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for bird conservation and are part of the EU Natura 2000 network of priority areas for conservation.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and University of Lisbon assessed the effectiveness of Natura 2000, the world’s largest protected area network, at conserving Western Europe’s agro-steppes over a 10-year period. The regions in Iberia studied hold approximately a third – or 14-15,000 – of the world’s population of great bustards, Otis tarda. MORE
Header image: João Gameiro.