President Bush Announces New Initiative to Conserve Birds

President Bush Announces New Initiative to Conserve Birds

From: American Bird Conservancy

(Washington, D.C.) President George W. Bush is expected to outline a series of new conservation initiatives to benefit birds while speaking at an event Saturday morning October 20 at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland. Many bird species are in decline and will require collaboration between governments, conservation groups and private landowners to restore the habitats on which they depend.

"We appreciate that President Bush and the First Lady understand the value of birds and the need to boost conservation efforts," said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy who represents the bird conservation community at the event. "Birds don't recognize boundaries - geographic or political. All Americans will welcome the President's initiative to conserve wild birds."

Two-thirds of the bird species that breed in or migrate through the U.S. have declining populations. Habitat loss and poor habitat management threaten these species, and without improved effort they will continue to decline. The Cerulean Warbler, which breeds in the eastern forests of North America and winters in South America, and a species American Bird Conservancy is working hard to conserve, has declined 80% in the last forty years.

"Like the proverbial canary in the coalmine, the decline of so many bird species is an indicator of the many environmental challenges society now faces," said Fenwick. "But, as the recovery of the American Bald Eagle has proven, we can reverse population declines with concerted effort, cooperation, and a can-do spirit."

Not all of the details have yet been made available but we expect the initiative may include:

  • Providing additional resources for Joint Ventures, 18 public-private regional partnerships that set conservation priorities and leverage funding from government and private sources to acquire and manage key habitats.
  • Partnering with Mexico to protect wintering habitats for over 200 species of migratory birds.
  • Becoming a signatory to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).
  • Creating a "State of the Birds" report to measure environmental health and conservation progress.
  • Cleaning up marine debris which is harming seabirds and other marine life.
  • Increasing conservation incentives for private landowners found in the Farm Bill and other programs.
  • Expanding support for National Wildlife Refuges which provide essential habitat for hundreds of bird species in the U.S.

"This initiative will build on and expand many of the most effective conservation programs such as Joint Ventures and the Conservation Reserve Program," said Fenwick. "Additional resources for these programs will make a tremendous difference."

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, ACAP, is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve albatrosses and petrels. ACAP urges member nations to minimize seabird bycatch by fishermen, protect the birds' nesting and foraging areas, and confront other threats that jeopardize species listed under the agreement. Nineteen out of 22 species of albatrosses are regarded as threatened due to a variety of causes, including mortality form longline fishing, lead poisoning, loss of nesting habitat, and predation of eggs and chicks by introduces animals.