BirdLife South Africa has recently published the first State of South Africa’s Birds Report, the first of its kind for the region. This exceptionally important publication draws on national survey and monitoring data to provide a detailed and authoritative insight into the status of birds and biodiversity within the country. Amongst all taxa, birds are ideal subjects to measure environmental change. Apart from being much more highly visible than small mammals and reptiles, bird taxa are appropriate indicators of ecosystem health, comparatively popular, and well-studied. In addition, the availability of significant long-term datasets in South Africa has made birds a good choice as the basis for a biodiversity early-warning system for environmental change impacts. The report is set out in the format of State, Pressure and Response and provides a summarised snapshot of where, why and how members of this exceptionally important group are declining, and gives shape and force to initiatives by a range of conservation stakeholders aimed at eliminating anthropogenic influences. It will be essential in the shaping of governmental policy relating to species protection, reserve establishment and implementing measures to halt the threats to birds and their habitats.
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