Conservation as development indicator

There are some who believe that conservation of species like birds is a luxury that developing countries like Seychelles cannot afford. Solving development constraints and social problems are the highest priority they say. But now the United Nations will be using information about the fate of birds to track progress towards the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which range from halving extreme poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability, are targets for the year 2015 agreed by all the world's governments and development institutions.

The Red List Index, used by Birdlife International and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) is to be the basis of a new MDG indicator.  To be known as the Proportion of Species Threatened with Extinction, it will be used alongside other MDG indicators, such as the rates of infant and maternal mortality and the proportion of children in primary education. The new indicator is the only species-based indicator in the UN set.

The Red List Index uses quantitative criteria based on population size, rate of decline, and area of distribution to place species in certain categories according to their risk of extinction. These categories include Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered. Genuine improvement or deterioration in the status of individual species will lead to changes in the categorisation.

Once upon a time there were more Critically Endangered birds in Seychelles than any country in Africa except Madagascar. Critically Endangered is the highest threat level a species can be classed under in the Red List. However, world class work by Birdlife International and later Nature Seychelles and its partners on the Seychelles warbler, once thought to be the rarest bird in the world, has not only rescued this species but paved the way for many species recovery programs.

Nature Seychelles has been acknowledged as having led the recovery program that saved the Seychelles Magpie robin, with the assistance of island owners and government.  The organisation’s research program on the Seychelles Scops owl resulted in new information that effectively proved the owl could no longer be classified as Critically Endangered. Its conservation program for the Seychelles Fody with island owners ended in Birdlife International removing this species completely from the Red List. The Ministry of Environment’s work on the Seychelles white eye has led to a reduction in threat levels of this species.

As a result of all this pioneering work Seychelles will be far ahead of most countries when the new MDG indicator comes into force next year. It proves once again that the country is achieving tremendous progress towards the UN's Millennium Development Goals.


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Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

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Email: nature@seychelles.net