Where Have All the Birds Gone?

August 31, 2008 Updated: September 1, 2008

Ornithologists have discovered during the past few months that the European world of birds is shrinking.

This is particularly evident in Eastern Germany and Eastern Europe where some species of birds, and their numbers, are decreasing dramatically due to the proliferation of chemical farming practices.

The only method to avoid further numbers of bird deaths is to rapidly expand organic farming practices, something the European Union is planning to do but has yet to act on.

Meadowlarks, field sparrows, gold finches, and other once-plentiful varieties of birds in Germany’s farming areas have now become a rarity.

Southwest Germany has seen the numbers of meadowlarks decline to the point where they are now scarce. Kiewits, meadow pipers, and other meadow birds also are close to extinction, as are many shore birds.

Only a different farming policy, a landscape without pesticides and chemical poisons, will save the once-plentiful flora and fauna in our farming areas from extinction.

During the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn in May this year, the German Chancellor promised millions in funding to protect global forests. This, however, will not protect birds in the fields, meadows, and pastures. Money alone cannot guarantee the survival of these species in Europe.

The rise in cultivation of chemically enhanced crops for bio-fuel production is taking up formerly unused sections of land that had provided a paradise for birds and presented a ray of hope for insects and plants. Protecting fallow lands, nature preserves, and organic farming acreages are necessary to preserve Europe's manifold variety of species.

Fortunately, the European Union already features 26,000 nature preserves, amounting to 20 per cent of the member states' total surface area. This is a rather crucial necessity in order to preserve a variety of species on which the existence of many living beings is based. Additional climate protection would translate into preservation of the species.

Genetic engineering, some ornithologists say, will also spell the demise of many bird species, as will climate change and the resulting increase in desertification, the loss of the rainforest and overgrazing practices in the Sudan and Sahel.

Though the German government ratified an ambitious climate protection program in 2007, cabinet members have been lax to make it a reality. Fearing negative reactions from the voters in Bavaria, lawmakers were unwilling to impose an extra three Euros per year in taxes on drivers to finance a cleaner environment.

It’s high time the government acted on this issue, otherwise voters will choose leaders who are willing to do something about climate and species protection in the next election.

Franz Alt was born in 1938 and is a German renewable energy activist and journalist. He studied political science, history, philosphhy and theology. Form 1968 to 1972 he was an editor and reporter at the Suedwestrundfunk (Southwest radio/telelvision based in Stuttgart, Germany). Between 1972 and 1992 he was chief moderator for the political magazine Report.  Alt has been a freelancer since 2003 and writes for over 40 German newspapers and magazines.  

Original article in German: www.epochtimes.de/articles/2008/06/05/294113.html

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.