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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

Flood Kills 7, Displaces 2,800 In Kwara

Flooding in different parts of Kwara in 2022 has caused about 7 deaths.

This was disclosed by the managing Director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, HYPPADEC, Abubakar Yelwa, on Sunday, September 25, in Patigi, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State.

He identified riverine communities in Patigi as the worst hit by the disaster.

Abubakar said 1,300 households and 2,800 persons were affected by the flood disaster.

He further revealed that large hectares of farmlands and houses were also submerged in Patigi.

The commission was in the area to assist the victims with relief materials.

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Environment

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened into a hurricane as it moves closer to Cuba on a track expected to take it to Florida in the coming days.

Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly and become a major hurricane as soon as late Monday.

Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin evacuations Monday as Ian was forecast to strengthen before reaching the western part of the island on its way to Florida.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ian should reach the far-western part of Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday, hitting near the country’s most famed tobacco fields. It could become a major hurricane before a likely landfall in Florida around the middle of the week, possibly the state’s western coast or Panhandle.

Cuba state media outlet Granma said authorities would begin evacuating people from vulnerable areas early Monday in the far-western province of Pinar del Rio. Classes there have been suspended.

At 5 a.m. EDT on Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph), about 90 miles (150 kilometers) southwest of Grand Cayman, according to the center. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Meanwhile, residents in Florida were keeping a cautious eye on Ian as it rumbled ominously through the Caribbean on a path toward the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency throughout Florida and urged residents to prepare for the storm to lash large swaths of the state with heavy rains, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters are still unsure of exactly where Ian could make landfall, with current models plotting it toward Florida’s west coast or panhandle regions, he said.

“We’re going to keep monitoring the track of this storm. But it really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,” DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday, cautioning that “even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state.”

Flash and urban flooding is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula through midweek, and then heavy rainfall was possible for north Florida, the Florida panhandle and the southeast United States later this week.

The agency placed a tropical storm watch over the lower Florida Keys on Sunday evening and has advised Floridians to have hurricane plans in place and monitor updates of the storm’s evolving path.

President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Sept. 27 trip to Florida because of the storm.

John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based center, said in an interview Sunday that it is not clear exactly where Ian will hit hardest in Florida. Residents should begin preparations, including gathering supplies for potential power outages, he said.

“It’s a hard thing to say stay tuned, but that’s the right message right now,” Cangialosi said “But for those in Florida, it’s still time to prepare. I’m not telling you to put up your shutters yet or do anything like that, but it’s still time to get your supplies.”

Local media in Florida have reported a consumer rush on water, generators and other supplies in some areas where residents moved to stock up on goods ahead of the storm.

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Environment

134 Dead, 76,887 Houses Destroyed As Flooding Hits Jigawa

Heavy flooding in Jigawa State has resulted in the death of 134 persons and destroyed 76,887 houses.

The deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Umar Namadi disclosed this when he hosted the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) official, Rahman Rihub Mahmud Fara on Saturday.

He said the state lost property worth more than N1.5 trillion to the floods.

A total of 22 roads and 11 bridges were completely washed away by the floods, he said.

The deputy governor said an entire village was also completely destroyed.

He said the flood affected 272,189 people, out of which 76,887 lost their houses.Mr Namadi said Kirikasamma and Birniwa local government areas are greatly affected.

UNICEF chief field officer in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, Mr Fara, said they came to assess the situation and see what could be done to alleviate the suffering of the communities affected by flood in the state.

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