Research and Application News
Earth observations show Europe’s natural wealth in steep decline
05 May 2018
In March 2018, French scientists reported a steep decline in the country's bird populations, primarily as a result of agricultural activity. Causes include the increase in monoculture, detrimental land-use policies and, perhaps most importantly, the growth in the use of powerful pesticides such as neonicotinoids, which, by killing off insects, reduces the bird population by reducing the food available to them.
With an average decline of 33%, a host of once-common farmland bird species is disappearing — the grey partridge, the Eurasian skylark, the meadow pipit and many others. Although devastating, this news was no surprise to scientists at Ecopotential, an ecosystem monitoring project that tracks protected areas around the world to analyse environmental shifts.
Image credit: Nathalie Ducrot, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 - Satellite data can show environmental shifts in protected areas like the Camargue wetlands