Bitterns Are Booming

Category ConservationNews
23 June 2015, Comments Comments Off on Bitterns Are Booming

PHOT0076.JPGScientists have reported that 2015 has been a record year for the bittern, with numbers at their highest for 200 years. Over 150 individuals have been counted across the UK, compared to just 11 birds counted in 1997.

By the end of the 19th century the bittern was extinct in the UK and did not reappear until 1911. In the 1990s concern about a possible second extinction, as a result of the loss of habitat, spurred a massive conservation effort. Since then wetland and reed bed restoration projects and significant funding from the European Union’s Life programme have stimulated the bittern’s incredible comeback. This year’s record numbers prove just how successful conservation can be when funding is made available and the key issues behind species decline can be targeted.

However, conservation groups remain concerned for the bittern’s wellbeing. 59% of bittern recordings this year were on sites protected under international laws, namely the EU Wild Birds and Habitats directives. The current EU consultation on these directives could bring about a weakening of the legislation. There are fears in the conservation community that this could threaten the European network of areas protected for conservation (Natura 2000). This could have disastrous consequences for the bittern, and many other species.

But for now the bittern and its habitat are safe and thriving. Success stories, like the bittern, give us hope that something can be done to reverse species loss.

Sources: The Guardian. Online. June 2015; BBC News. Online. June 2015

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