As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 18 June 2018

Humans v birds: poorly managed urban growth squeezes biodiversity

Melbourne bird survey supports research suggesting native species thrive better if planning includes environmental reserves, rather than backyards

Thu 31 May 2018 09.12 BST
Last modified on Thu 31 May 2018 22.56 BST

The outskirts of Melbourne are a maze of newly-paved culs-de-sac. Freestanding homes twist in on each other, filling the footprint of their small street blocks.

On the other side of the road, short wooden stakes have been tied with fluorescent tape to mark out the next development.

It is a seemingly never ending process to house Melbourne’s rapidly expanding population, which grew 2.3% to 4.85 million people in 2016-17.

But environmental scientists say that unless planners change the way they provide for this growth it will come at the cost of biodiversity.

A new study published online in the British Ecological Society journal this week found that development models based on a “land sharing” approach, where native species are provided with habitat in the form of the inter-connected backyards and tree-lined streets of a low-density suburb, performed poorly compared to a model of medium-density housing alongside continuous tracts of environmental reserve, known as a “land sparing” model.

A survey of bird species in 28 parcels of land throughout Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, including four reserves, found that half of the native species observed decreased significantly in proportion to the density of human occupation, and 13 species were only found in reserves.

Some species, such as rainbow lorikeets, magpies and red wattlebirds were abundant throughout the suburbs.

But to maximise the diversity of native bird species, the study concluded, large tracts of native vegetation must be included alongside urban areas.

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