One good tern deserves another

28 Aug 2012

BirdLife International – Forest & Bird’s global partner – this year celebrates its 90th birthday.

The use of bird feathers – and birds, such as this tern – for women’s hats led to the start of an international bird advocacy group in 1912. Photo: VBN

The use of bird feathers – and birds, such as this tern – for women’s hats led to the start of an international bird advocacy group in 1912. Photo: VBN

The organisation began as a lobby group to stop the use of heron, egret and hummingbird feathers in upper class women’s hats, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands birds.

BirdLife International’s forerunner – the International Council for Bird Preservation – succeeded in banning this extermination for fashion through its education and advocacy work.

Today, BirdLife has partners in 116 countries. In most parts of the world, direct consumption of birds is not the biggest cause of dramatic biodiversity loss.

Now, the destruction of sites and habitats and the ecologically unsustainable use of natural resources is doing most damage. This is the main reason that more than one in eight bird species are on the IUCN Red List.

The general problem is the same as it was in 1922, though, instead of feathers, it is now the consumption of energy, the destruction of forests, the intensification of agriculture and over-fishing of our oceans. The BirdLife partnership continues its work on these challenges.