Fewer than ten percent of migratory birds worldwide have access to protected areas vital to their annual migration cycles, a study published in the journal Science has found.
Led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED), the researchers found huge gaps in the global network of interconnected protected sites necessary for migration, particularly across China, India, and parts of Africa and South America.
The team examined over 8,200 areas that have been identified as internationally important locations for migratory bird populations.
They found that just 22 per cent are completely protected, and 41 per cent only partially overlap with protected areas.
“More than half of migratory bird species travelling the world’s main flyways have suffered serious population declines in the past 30 years,” the study’s lead author, Claire Runge, PhD, of CEED and the University of Queensland, said in a press release accompanying the study.
“This is due mainly to unequal and ineffective protection across their migratory range and the places they stop to refuel along their routes,” she said. “A typical migratory bird relies on many different geographic locations throughout its annual cycle for food, rest and breeding.
“So even if we protect most of their breeding grounds, it’s still not enough. Threats somewhere else can affect the entire population. The chain can be broken at any link.”
The authors called for improved investment and enhanced coordination among countries to conserve migratory species throughout their migratory cycle.