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Top 10 reasons why we should increase attention to urban bird conservation

In 2012, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity called for action and policy to promote and ensure the conservation of urban biodiversity. Besides maintaining the ecological processes and ecosystem services in cities, protecting urban biodiversity provides opportunities for people to experience and learn about local wildlife – thereby increasing environmental stewardship. The crux of their call to action:

With the growing awareness of the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services, cities with rich native biodiversity should ensure that their biodiversity is conserved. Cities with impoverished biodiversity should pursue enhancement, restoration, and reintroduction efforts to increase native biodiversity.

Following this Convention on Biological Diversity mandate, researchers in a paper published in Urban Ecosystem (Snep et al. 2015) targeted key stakeholders (stakeholder groups are listed at the end of the article) to identify the top arguments in favor of transforming “traditional city environments into more bird-friendly ones.” Each of which has a role in addressing the challenges that affect urban bird survival such as habitat fragmentation, habitat availability, lack of native vegetation, and an increasing presence of buildings that are not bird-friendly.

In this list of the top 10 reasons why we should increase attention to urban bird conservation, we highlight the actions that people and companies can take to conserve urban birds and expected results.

  1. Support for nature conservation starts in cities.An American Goldfinch bird sitting on a backyard feeder
    Action: Include urban birds in wildlife education, outreach and communication.
    Result: Make general conservation aims more recognizable by linking with the daily perception of citizens, businesses and urban professionals.
  2. People need education and messages to increase the value of bird conservation.
    Action: Provide tailor-made advice for wildlife-friendly management of gardens, yards, and parks.
    Result: Tailor-made advice increases success rates in conservation practice and increases support for non-government organizations.
  3. Citizens can make a difference when it comes to habitat quality for urban birds.
    Action: Design structurally diverse gardens and yards (vegetation and landforms), with native vegetation, and minimal paved surfaces, collar cats with bells, and feed birds—if appropriate in the local context.
    Result: The actions proposed will attract birds to gardens and yards, enabling people to enjoy them and increase their well-being.
  4. Both people and birds benefit from green cities.
    Action: Green built-up areas where health problem prevention and recovery is important such as hospitals, schools, retirement homes, etc.
    Result: A green environment may help prevent illness and aid in the healing process.
  5. Incorporating wildlife habitat quality into urban planning and design substantially increases urban bird abundance.
    Action: Maximize the amount of green in urban developments, and connect new green areas with existing green structures inside and outside cities.
    Result: People prefer a green living environment with abundant wildlife as it increases their well-being.
  6. Incorporating wildlife habitat quality into building design and development increases urban bird abundance locally.
    Action: Utilize bird-friendly construction materials such as green roof/wall types with added value for birds.
    Result: By accounting for biodiversity, green building practices can produce bird-friendly buildings and built-in nest boxes that help increase biodiversity.
  7. urbanbird_coophwk_2016Incorporating wildlife habitat quality into urban green design and management substantially increases urban bird abundance.
    Action: Combine aesthetical and cost-effectiveness aims with habitat creation. Establish native vegetation with sufficient variety in green design and maintenance.
    Result: Offering habitat opportunities for wildlife may appeal to land owners and residents.
  8. Both employees and birds benefit from green business and office parks.
    Action: Companies may utilize various options to physically green corporate environments, e.g. green walls and roofs.
    Result: A green outdoor environment at work appears to be an asset for employees’ wellbeing and level of stress.
  9. Urban bird conservation can help companies to express their corporate social and environmental responsibility.
    Action: Companies may employ activities to stimulate wildlife presence and wildlife experience on corporate campuses.
    Result: Increased employee commitment, improved relationships with environmental organizations, positive effect on community relations, improved relationship with regulators, annual cost savings.
  10. Corporations can make a difference when it comes to habitat quality for urban birds.
    Action: Companies may explore how their corporate land and open spaces can contribute to regional conservation aims.
    Result: Companies can move beyond current corporate practices and increase habitat availability at the city region scale.

Explore Urban Bird Foundation’s programs and learn how we are taking action for birds and biodiversity in urban and suburban environments.

Key Stakeholder List: Urban planners, urban designers and architects, and landscape architects; Urban developers and engineers; Homeowners and tenants; Companies and industries; Landscaping and gardening firms; Education and communication staff at schools and non-government organizations

Snep, R.P., Kooijmans, J.L., Kwak, R.G. et al. Urban Ecosyst (2016) 19: 1535. doi:10.1007/s11252-015-0442-z

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