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?20 Million Contributed by UK Birders

Brits lead the world in bird research…

BTO Director, Professor Jeremy Greenwood will today tell 1,300 of the World’s leading ornithologists, gathered in Germany, that “Britain leads the World” in bird research, largely because British birdwatchers spend 1.6 million hours each year contributing to bird surveys. Professor Jeremy Greenwood, the Director of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), will today urge bird experts from around the world to make full use of volunteer birdwatchers when monitoring changes in bird populations and setting conservation agendas. In an hour-long lecture to the 24th International Ornithological Congress in Hamburg (see note below) he will talk about Citizens, Science and Bird Conservation.Writing about his lecture prior to his departure for Germany, Professor Greenwood praised the achievements, as well as the efforts of birdwatchers:

“Amateurs make a major contribution to ornithology and bird conservation science. They always have and there is no sign of their contribution diminishing. They do between one and two million hours of work in the UK alone each year. Though they may have no formal qualifications, they have considerable expertise, gained from many years of devotion to the subject.

Areas to which they have contributed include:

• the study of migration – by observation and through bird ringing
• distributional atlases
• censuses, monitoring and demographic studies
• breeding biology – through the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme

Their work has not only identified the declines of many species but has also helped to discover the causes of those declines and how they can be reversed.”Professor Greenwood gave an example of the conservation benefits of counting birds:

“The information obtained by British amateurs has assisted Government in devising schemes to benefit birds and other wildlife on farms. It has fed into reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and is used to produce one of the UK Government’s Quality of Life indicators. Although similar monitoring goes on in many countries around the world, Britain leads the world in the involvement of birdwatchers in such serious scientific work.” Writing in the State of the UK’s Birds 2005, published by RSPB/BTO/WWT/CCW/EN/EHS and SNH yesterday (18 August), Graham Appleton (BTO) wrote: “Given that 2005 was the ‘Year of the Volunteer’, it seems appropriate to quantify just how much volunteer effort goes into modern-day survey work. … even rough calculations suggest a value into the millions of pounds. This monitoring, and the benefits it brings to bird conservation, simply would not be possible without the generous contribution of time, effort and expertise by volunteer birdwatchers throughout the UK.”NB The International Ornithological Congress takes place every four years. The 24th Congress is taking place in Hamburg between 13th and 19th August. At the start of each session of the conference an invited speaker addresses the whole Congress, before the conference breaks up for workshops. Professor Greenwood has been invited to give one of the nine plenary addresses. See http://www.i-o-c.org for more information.

Jeremy Greenwood has been Director of the British Trust for Ornithology since 1988 and is currently President of the European Ornithologists’ Union. He is one of the contributors to a new Radio 4 series on Citizen Science. He expanded upon some of the points in this press release in the programme transmitted on Wednesday, 9 August.

4th July 2014