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Intensive agriculture identified as silent killer of Europe's bird populations

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By illuminem

· 2 min read

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🗞️ Driving the news: A team of over 50 researchers has determined that the use of pesticides and fertilizers in intensive agriculture is the leading cause of bird population decline in Europe
• This study, which utilized data from thousands of citizen scientists across 28 countries, found that bird numbers have fallen more than a quarter since 1980, with a more than 50% decline among farmland species

🌎 Why it matters for the planet: The decline in bird populations is indicative of broader environmental degradation
• Intensive agriculture, which has been increasing across Europe, has led to a "trophic cascade" up the food chain due to the mass killing of invertebrates as pests
Urbanization, the second most significant factor, is also on the rise, with dwindling green spaces in cities and changes in architecture affecting urban-dwelling bird species

🔭 The context: The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined how 170 bird species responded to four widespread manmade pressures: agricultural intensification, forest cover change, urbanization, and the climate crisis

⏭️ What’s next: The researchers argue that only the "rapid implementation of transformative change in European societies, and especially in agricultural reform" can save the continent's bird populations

💬 One quote: "Increasing our reliance on pesticides and fertilizer has allowed us to farm more intensively and increase output, but, as this study clearly shows, at a huge cost to our wildlife and the health of the environment." (Alice Groom, RSPB)

The full-length article was published in the Guardian

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