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One in five of Europe’s bird species slipping towards extinction

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One in five of Europe’s bird species slipping towards extinction

The common swift, common snipe and rook are among species slipping towards extinction in Europe, according to the continent’s latest “red list” report, which finds that one in five bird species is now at risk.

From the Azores in the west to the Ural mountains in the east, birds that have been the cornerstones of European ecosystems are disappearing, according to the BirdLife International analysis, which is based on observations of 544 native bird species. Three species have become regionally extinct in Europe since the last report in 2015 – Pallas’s sandgrouse, common buttonquail and pine bunting.

In total, 30% of species assessed are showing population decline, according to observations from thousands of experts and volunteers working in 54 countries and territories. At a European level, 13% of birds are threatened with extinction and a further 6% are near threatened. “The results are alarming but we are not surprised,” said Anna Staneva, interim head of conservation, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia.

Key trends echo findings from the three previous publications of the red list, in 1994, 2004 and 2015, showing declines continuing unabated. The data is based on millions of observations made since 1980. “We’re running out of time, the clock is ticking. We don’t want to see the dramatic changes we’re seeing now happening in the next five or 10 years,” said Staneva.

The findings – which were collected in 2019 – are based on the IUCN red list categories and criteria applied at regional level. They corroborate conclusions from the State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018 report, which found only a quarter of species have good conservation status. Loss of habitat, intensification of agriculture, the overexploitation of resources, pollution and unsustainable forestry practices are driving declines, with the climate crisis a growing factor.

“These are big, large-scale threats which we call systemic threats, and they’re very much related to the way our society works and how we use resources,” said Staneva. “It’s a signal that something is seriously going wrong around us. We need to change the way we live, that is the key message coming from our results.”

The common swift is near threatened and rooks and common snipe are now considered vulnerable due to sharp declines since 2015 when they were listed as of least concern. For species to be placed in the near threatened category the population has to have declined by 25% over three generations. When declines are greater than 30% they enter the threatened category.

Staneva said it was a surprise to see such well-known species in big trouble. “There are probably lots of things each and every one of us can do in our daily life to change the way we consume natural resources, but obviously as active citizens probably the most important thing we can do is demand our politicians take action,” she said.

A species is regionally extinct if it has not been observed in Europe over a minimum period of five years. Two species that were believed extinct in 2015 – the Caspian plover and the Asian desert warbler – have since reappeared in Europe. For more than 50% of species living on rocky habitats such as inland cliffs and mountain peaks, there is not enough research to plot accurate population trends.

However, it is not all bad news. The recovery of the bittern, Azores bullfinch and griffon vulture show targeted action on species recovery can work. Certain raptors such as red kites are doing better thanks to the banning of pesticides such as DDT and legal protection against persecution.

A few species are currently benefiting from a warmer climate. The black-tailed godwit, for example, has moved from vulnerable to not threatened since 2015, and this is probably due to rising spring temperatures in Iceland, which holds about 47% of the European population. The 2020 European Breeding Bird Atlas (Ebba2) showed Mediterranean species such as the European bee-eater and little egret are now reaching the UK and other areas of northern Europe, mainly due to milder winters.

Martin Harper, regional director of BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said he hoped the report would serve as a catalyst for more people and organisations to take action to protect Europe’s birds. “Governments across Europe need to translate the new global ambition to restore nature into legal targets, backed up by the right policies and funding,” he said.

The latest list will help inform on-the-ground conservation action and national and international environment policies. Recommendations from the report include creating a larger and better managed network of protected areas, consistent with the UN target of protecting 30% of land by 2030, with substantial areas under strict protection, such as “no take” marine protected areas and “no logging” forests.

Carbon-rich landscapes such as peatlands, grassland and forest which can deliver benefits for biodiversity and the climate should be prioritised, the report found, and efforts to sequester carbon should also aid biodiversity. In terms of funding, a key recommendation is to end perverse subsidies that harm nature and switch to an agricultural policy that supports wildlife-friendly farming.

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Environment

Alake Unveils Mining Marshals To Secure Mining Sites

In fulfilment of a major plank of his 7-point agenda to create a new security architecture to secure mining sites, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake has unveiled a 2,200-strong Mines Marshal to smoke out illegal miners and all those who flout the nation’s mining laws.

Formally receiving the marshals drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) from the Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi, representing the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Alake charged the new operatives to stem theft and all nefarious activities around the nation’s mineral resources so that the nation can reap maximum benefits from its God-given resources.

It will be recalled that as a result of the efforts of the presidential Inter-ministerial committee on securing natural resources chaired by Dr. Alake, the Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Ojo, a few weeks ago launched the NSCDC-led mines marshal, which represents the first layer of the new security architecture to secure the mining environment.

With a command structure spread across the 36 states and the FCT, the mines marshal will have their command and control domiciled in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development(MSMD), with an initial 60 operatives deployed in each state and the FCT.

Highlighting the role played by his interior counterpart in the evolution of the new security outfit, Dr. Alake commended Hon. Olubunmi-Ojo for putting words to actions and working tirelessly with the solid minerals ministry to achieve the feat.

“Today’s event of unveiling and formally handing over the specially trained and selected civil defence structure to engage illegal miners and sanitise our mining environment was also part of what we conceived at the inter-ministerial committee chaired by me. I am very happy to let the public know that from the outset we said are going to tackle insecurity in the mining sector and the first batch of the security apparati is what we are launching today, the Minister added.

The mines marshal devised to be an inter-agency security outfit will incorporate special operatives from other security agencies like the Nigeria Police, army, amongst others. Its operations will largely be technologically driven.

In his remarks, NSCDC Commandant-General, Abubakar Audi stated that the new mines marshal will give verve to the corps’ mandate of protecting national assets and infrastructure in which solid minerals is a major component.

Audi revealed that the marshals will liaise with mine inspectorate in states to garner intelligence and take directives from the ministry for effective execution of its mandate.

“We have a list of illegal miners across the nation, and we will go after them. Their days are now numbered, “Audi declared.

The Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jonathan Gbefwi, who graced the occasion, expressed satisfaction with the new security outfit, noting that with improved security around mining areas, Nigeria’s economic fortunes is bound for a forward leap.

” When the Minister reeled out his 7-point agenda during his inaugural address, which included the Mines Police, not a few people were sceptical about it. But today, he has matched words with action. On behalf of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I doff my hat for him and say, “Well done.” You can be rest assured of the continued support and cooperation of the House of Reps and, by extension, the National Assembly, Hon. Gbefwi said.

The new Mines Marshal is led by a Commander, Chief Superintendent of Corps, CSC Attah John Onoja.

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Environment

NiMET Predicts 3-day sunshine, thunderstorms

There will be sunshine and thunderstorms from Saturday to Monday across the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted.

A release on Friday in Abuja, according to NiMet’s weather outlook, forecasts a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Saturday, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Kebbi and Sokoto states.

“Thunderstorms are also expected over parts of Kaduna, Kebbi,and Zamfara states later in the day,” the agency reports.

It explained that the sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds is anticipated over the north-central cities, with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Niger, adding that during the afternoon and evening hours, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, the Federal Capital Territory, and Plateau states.

It also explained that a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states and the coastal cities of the south, with prospects of morning thunderstorms over parts of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

The agency envisaged that there would be thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Lagos, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers states later in the day and anticipates a sunny atmosphere over the northern region on Sunday, with prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, and Bauchi states during the afternoon and evening hours.

It also predicted a sunny atmosphere with patches of clouds over the North Central cities with prospects of afternoon and evening thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau states, as well as a cloudy atmosphere with spells of sunshine is expected over the inland states later in the day.

According to the agency, there would be prospects of thunderstorms over parts of Oyo, Osun, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Lagos states in the afternoon and evening periods.

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Environment

NiMET forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has forecast sunshine and haziness from Monday to Wednesday nationwide.

NiMet’s weather outlook released on Sunday in Abuja, predicted sunny and hazy atmosphere on Monday over the northern region throughout the forecast period.

It said cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine are expected over the North Central states with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Benue State during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Benue and Kogi.

“Increased cloudy condition is anticipated in the morning hours over Inland states of South and coastal cities with chances of morning thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Rivers and Delta states.

“Later in the day, localised thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, Oyo, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states,“ it said.

The agency said that a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday with chances of localized thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Kaduna stakes during the evening hours.

It expected patches of clouds over the North Central region with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

The agency forecast localised thunderstorms over parts of the Federal Capital Territory, Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states later in the day.

It envisaged cloudy skies over the inland areas of the South and the coastal cities with prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Lagos State during the morning periods.

NiMet anticipated localised thunderstorms over parts of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and Delta states in the afternoon and evening hours.

According to the agency, a sunny and hazy atmosphere is expected over the northern region throughout the forecast period on Wednesday.

“Increased cloudy condition with chances of early morning thunderstorms is expected over parts of Plateau, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory during the morning hours.

“Later in the day, localized thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Kwara, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

“Cloudy skies are expected over inland cities of South and Coast with prospects of localised thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ebonyi, Abia, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states in the morning hours,“ it said.

NiMet anticipated localized thunderstorms over parts of Abia, Ogun, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, River and Lagos States in the afternoon and evening hours.

The agency called on the public to take adequate precaution as strong winds might precede rains in areas where thunderstorms were likely to occur.

“Temperature values are still high especially in the North, please stay hydrated. Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations,” it said.

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