North American scientists have demonstrated that more diverse bird populations can help to buffer people against infection from West Nile virus, according to recent research highlighted in BirdLife International’s News section today. The article (available in full from PLoS ONE, here) demonstrates a link between high bird diversity and low incidence of West Nile virus in humans in eastern North America. According to the authors, these results “illustrate an important ecosystem service provided by biodiversity, further supporting the growing view that protecting biodiversity should be considered in public health and safety plans.” The study contributes to our growing understanding of the importance of preserving bird diversity – the many benefits include maintaining important ecosystem services (like buffering humans from infectious… read more →
As we reported last week, the Joint Review Panel established to consider the proposal by EnCana to drill 1275 shallow gas wells in the National Wildlife Area has recommended denying approval of the project. The Panel found that EnCana’s project would likely result in significant adverse effects on species at risk and consequently interfere with the conservation of wildlife. Write to Ministers Prentice and MacKay and ask them to prevent further development at Suffield. Image: Nature Alberta Winter 2009, Vol 38, #4
This weekend, the New Jersey Star-Ledger published an interesting article highlighting the plight of two species of shorebirds, Red Knots and Semipalmated Sandpipers, that refuel in Delaware Bay before continuing on their migrations: Tiny and easily overlooked among the hordes of more spectacular shorebirds streaming up and down the Atlantic Coast, the semipalmated sandpiper is suddenly standing out in the fragile ecological ballet that unfolds annually at the Delaware Bay. The little brown bird, named because of its partially webbed feet, is providing new insight into the link scientists have drawn between the plummeting population of the more celebrated red knot sandpiper and dwindling number of horseshoe crab eggs on the New Jersey and Delaware shores. A team of five… read more →
Yesterday, as all attention was focused on the budget, the Joint Review Panel issued a recommendation against EnCana’s application to drill 1,275 natural gas wells and construct associated infrastructure in the Suffield National Wildlife area. While EnCana claimed the drilling project would have negligible, insignificant impacts on this protected area, conservation experts and the Government of Canada presented powerful evidence to the contrary during the October 2008 hearing. In yesterday’s report, the Panel recognized the importance of the NWA and concluded that the project should not be approved at this time. It set out 3 requirements that would have to be met for the project to go forward without causing significant impact on the conservation of wildlife. The requirements were,… read more →
Wildlife in the Mackenzie River Valley have gained a reprieve as plans to industrialize their habitat have been delayed by at least a year. From Reuters: A regulatory panel weighing a proposal for a $16.2-billion pipeline to ship gas from Canada’s Arctic will not complete its report for one year, spelling another in a long list of delays for the embattled project. The Joint Review Panel, which is examining the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, said it will release its report in December, 2009, months later that expected. More reporting here and here. The Joint Review Panel has a huge job ahead, and the delay in producing a final report, we hope, means that panel members… read more →
For many years, researchers have wondered why the huge mudflats of Roberts Bank, near Vancouver, are so special to migrating Western Sandpipers. Every year around 2 million Western Sandpipers stop to rest and refuel on these mudflats. This is a substantial proportion of the world’s population of this shorebird species. The area’s key importance for Western Sandpipers is one of the reasons why the entire Boundary Bay – Roberts Bank – Sturgeon Bank – Fraser River Estuary area around Vancouver is recognized as a globally significant Important Bird Area. Now, recent research has revealed that the Western Sandpipers feeding at Roberts Bank rely heavily on what is called “biofilm”: a thin, dense layer of microbes, organic detritus and sediment which… read more →
An update to Chris’ blog entry from last month: On Friday, David Suzuki hosted the CBC program The Current. Dr. Suzuki interviewed Mike Rands, the CEO of BirdLife International, about the declines of bird species around the world that are highlighted in State of the World’s Birds. You can listen to this really interesting interview (as well as lots of other interesting conservation tidbits from the show) here (it’s part three of the program).
Many of the world’s most active bird conservation folks are gathering — flocking you might say — to BirdLife International’s World Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which begins today! Our President Julie Gelfand will be sending updates on the conference over the coming week. To kick off the conference, BirdLife International is releasing the report, State of the World’s Birds, and launching a web site, in which they warn that common birds are in decline across the world, providing evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment affecting all life on Earth – including human life. In our part of the world, the report highlights population declines of more than 50% over the last 40 years for 20 of… read more →