Agriculture against birds
Over the past 24 years many species of field birds have declined. The cause is the change in habitat due to more intensive agricultural crops.

A lapwing. It is among the endangered species. Photo: © LIPU (Italian Bird Protection League).
A lapwing. It is among the endangered species. Photo: © LIPU (Italian Bird Protection League).

It is one of the least known threats; agriculture in Europe is slowly decreasing the number of birds that live in the fields. They are little known but very beautiful species, such as the bustard or lapwing. Or the mysterious quail king, who makes his strange song heard only in a few sites in Europe. This is stated by a research presented in Berlin by Lipu (Italian Bird Protection League) and by Birdlife International, the European association that fights for the defense of birds and habitats. The investigation, entitled "Agriculture, environment and consumers" examined 18 European countries. The result is that from 1980 to the present day populations of species such as the lapwing, the yellow bunting and the lark have collapsed by a percentage that exceeds thirty percent.

The numbers of the problem. Out of a total of 450 species, as many as 150 have been affected by this change in habitat, and could only survive in the presence of sustainable and environmentally-friendly agriculture. The decline, more marked in Western European countries, is essentially caused by an intensification of industrial agricultural practices.

Future Europe.
Lipu therefore asks that the countries that will soon enter Europe do not radically change their agriculture and still maintain agricultural extensions that can support the bird species that have disappeared in Western Europe. "If this does not happen, says Patrizia Rossi, head of Lipu agriculture, even in these countries we will have to see the decline and in some houses the disappearance of important animal species and, more generally, of biodiversity".

(News updated February 24, 2004)