The threats to the world’s migratory animals are greater than ever, a landmark UN report says

During the nesting season, the marbled murrelet, Affectionately known Among birdwatchers as a “strange and mysterious little seabird,” it lays a single egg in the thick moss that grows on the branches of old-growth forest canopy in British Columbia.

With some of these forests under threat from logging, so are small black and brown-spotted seabirds He is considered threatenedalso.

A new United Nations report finds that the marbled murrelet is among a growing number of migratory animals facing a perilous future.

“The solution for the marbled murrelet and a number of other migratory species is habitat protection,” said Shelley Luce, Sierra Club campaign director.

“Habitat loss is one of the biggest drivers — and in many cases the biggest driver — of species loss.”

Report by United Nations Conservation Group A study released Monday on the state of the world’s migratory species found that threats to these animals, from fish to birds to butterflies, are greater than ever.

A group of narwhals is seen in northern Canada
A group of narwhals appear in northern Canada. Narwhals are vulnerable to ocean noise and climate change. (The Canadian Press/AP/Kristin Leider/NOAA)

Almost all of the fish the group tracks — 97 percent — have declined in numbers, and the birds aren’t much better off.

Overall, more than one in five species included in the group is threatened with extinction, and 44 percent of them are in decline.

The report found that along with habitat loss, other human-caused impacts such as overexploitation, pollution and climate change are making it more difficult for migratory species to survive.

The report, titled “The State of the World’s Migratory Species,” is the first of its kind. It was created by a UN-backed organization known as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

It comes after two years Nearly 200 countries have committed At the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal to stop and reverse the destruction of nature by 2030.

An international issue

Experts said the results underscore the importance of increasing cooperation between countries to preserve habitats along migration routes.

“Trying to conserve these species means working across borders and developing coherent policies to try to help them,” said Chris Guglielmo, a biology professor and director of the Mobile Animal Center at Western University in London, Ontario.

For example, the endangered monarch butterfly flies from Canada and the United States to Mexico and back again every year.

The annual number of monarchs in their wintering grounds in Mexico has dropped by 59 percent this year. It’s the second-lowest level since record-keeping began, according to a partnership between environmental groups and the state that conducted the count.

watched Monarchs return to their winter home:

An ‘amazing’ sight as the monarchs return to their winter home

Tourists have descended on Cerro Preto in Mexico to see a remarkable sight: the annual winter return of monarch butterflies.

Experts have suggested a safe corridor for butterflies to migrate through the three countries, where pesticides are reduced and there are stricter rules against deforestation.

“Animals need to be able to move to fulfill their life cycles, and we have to think a lot about how we allow them to do that,” Guglielmo said.

He described biodiversity as a system of “gears and wheels” in which each species and organism has a role to play – and if migratory species are not present, the system breaks down.

For example, salmon bring nutrients from the ocean to forests, where they are deposited in streams.

These attract birds to the area, helping control pests such as the spruce budworm, which has wreaked havoc in parts of the boreal forest in a number of Canadian provinces, he said.

A “pit stop” on the trip

The report outlines how these animals can be better protected, from reducing poaching to reducing light pollution along migratory bird routes.

Barbara Fry, a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said birds, like humans, often stop during their migratory journey.

Woman standing next to the water
Barbara Fry, a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, is shown here in Cap Saint-Jacques, Montreal’s largest nature park and a haven for migratory birds. (Benjamin Shingler/CBC)

Adding protection means “more native plants, more food, often shrubs for migratory birds, fewer threats, and frankly, it makes it a more pleasant place for you and me to live,” Fry said.

Dr. Christy Morrissey, a biology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said many migratory birds face challenges as they fly north during spring migration, over farmland during a period of “spring seeding, spring spraying, pesticide application and tillage.”

One solution is this, Morrissey said Wetland protection From draining it and converting it into agricultural lands.

These wetlands can be home to many migratory species, she said.

A little brown chick perches on a mossy tree.
A marbled murrelet chick sits atop a mossy tree limb nest. (Aaron Allred/The Canadian Press)

Canada’s role

Given its vast territory, experts said Canada has an important role to play as the world works toward its 2030 conservation goal.

Luce’s Sierra Club is lobbying the federal and British Columbia governments to do more to protect migratory species.

“We have beautiful ancient coastal forests in British Columbia that are not protected from logging,” she said.

The Sierra Club was among a coalition of environmental groups that went to court to argue that Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault should have gone further in protecting marbled murrelets and other endangered birds.

Earlier this month, A A Federal Court judge ruled in their favorHe concluded that Guilbault should have expanded the protected area beyond the nesting area to where the bird gets its food, meets its mates and raises its young.

Environment and Climate Change Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

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