Intensive agricultural practices are driving birds to extinction


Maybe it’s time to update our idioms, because “salad days” don’t cover the ice cream craze that’s come to characterize this season now.

Proponents of this shivering snack might also consider changing the catchy titles of their offerings, like “The Eton Mess One” or “The Milky Bar One” to a few names on the pulse like “The Unsustainable Farming One”, “Farewell to the Sparrow hawks forever one” – or my current favorite, “How long before our current agricultural policy drives the rest of the farm birds to extinction one?”

Admittedly, the latter is something of a mouthful, but it would surely be appropriate to name one of these three-spoon concoctions after the industry that plays a central role in the devastating decline of once-abundant bird species. , some already completely absent from vast tracts of land that were once fortresses.

Ireland’s farmland birds are now the most endangered of all birds here, according to BirdWatch Ireland, thanks to the intensification of agriculture, the destruction of hedgerows, climate change and the devastation of bird populations. insects due to excessive use of pesticides. As they say, “This is a complex political issue, but the heart of the matter is simple – current agricultural policy continues to fail Irish wildlife.”

Because it’s not just unweaned calves and young bulls that are being driven off the land these days. From the yellowhammer to the barn owl and even the once common kestrel, we risk depriving future generations of their iconic sights and sounds.

Despite all the greenwashing propaganda, the drastic changes in farming practices over the past few decades mean that farmlands that were once biodiversity-rich areas that supported so many birds are now destroying their habitats and pushing them to the edge of extinction – as was the fate of the little corn bunting that relied on low-intensity agriculture.

It is not just beasts, birds and bees; we humans will ultimately pay the price for intensive agricultural practices that kill our wildlife and poison our lands, rivers and seas.

Just as we are tainted by the moral bankruptcy of an industry that is backed by a government prepared to make an exception to EU sanctions to allow Russian ships to dock here recently to supply the imported animal feed on which this unsustainable industry depends so heavily.

The power of the bottom line was evident in the response of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Chairman Pat McCormack when asked if there was a moral dilemma for Irish farmers importing food for Russian animals.

“It’s way beyond the farmer pay scale, this ethical issue,” he replied.

“It’s an ethical issue for the government…if they feel it passes the various trade protocols at that particular time, then Irish farmers will use that food. That’s for the government to decide.”

But fortunately it is also up to us, as BirdWatch Ireland believe that a key aspect of preventing our farmland birds from falling into oblivion is increasing public understanding of what is going on behind greenwashing, with “ more and more individuals and organizations trying to convince decision-makers that the environmental policies that govern agriculture should be weakened or even ignored”.

Not even a sixth of a percentage point of available funds from the next CAP agriculture budget has been allocated to paying farmers to protect and restore farmland for the iconic curlew and other most endangered breeding waders of our farmland bird species.

BirdWatch Ireland is asking us to donate to their ‘Call for Farmland Biodiversity Restoration’ so they can fight on our behalf to ensure that our politicians, policy makers and state bodies cannot shirk their responsibilities.

They say we need a change to dramatically increase the proportion of existing funds to support more sustainable agriculture, so we can reverse these declines by rewarding farmers and landowners who do the right thing for nature. – and therefore for the public good – by restoring and protecting farmland ecosystems.

Who needs to crown this good news with snowflakes?


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