Birds need protection outside conservation sites, too: Study

A recent study by Durham University and researchers from UK-based BirdLife International, of which Bombay Natural History Society is the India Partner, highlights the impact of climate change on birds in Asia, including India. The research throws light on the requirement of conserving not just the protected areas but also other habitats crucial to survival of birds, particularly in the climate change scenario.

The study reveals that many birds are likely to suffer due to climate change and will require not just enhanced protection of important and protected sites, but also better management of the wider countryside. In extreme cases, birds may be required to be physically moved to climatically suitable areas. The threatened species in India include Forest Owlet, Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican, White-rumped Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Lesser Adjutant and Greater Spotted Eagle, many of them found in Maharashtra.

The research published in journal Global Change Biology, examined the potential future distribution of species where suitable climate is likely to remain within protected areas and conservation sites, such as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and also the likelihood of an IBA network to maintain suitable habitats outside protected areas. This study was conducted for 370 Asian bird species conservation of which has become a cause for concern across the biodiversity hotspots of eastern Himalaya and lower Mekong river basin regions. The countries studied include Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and parts of India and Nepal.

BNHS Director Dr Asad Rahmani said: "This study proves that we need landscape-based conservation, particularly in high biodiversity areas such as the north-eastern region of India. Climate change will impact the distribution and range of many bird species due to the changes in their habitat. Some forest dependent species, which at present may occur in protected areas, are likely to find those areas unsuitable in the coming years due to climate change. Therefore much more holistic landscape-based conservation is required."

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