Why birds matter? BIRDWATCH the startup saving the world Biodiversity

Today, 20.09.2019, is the Global climate Strike, Millions of people from the world will march for urgent action on climate breakdown.

These last 5 years there are many startups, founders, entrepreneurs, acceleration program taking part of this long fight against climate change, developing projects, products and initiatives to help the earth breathe. What we call the “impact or social entrepreneurship” is a real movement.

One year ago, I had was lucky to get “a match” with the project BIRDWATCH and accompany them in a 365 days journey into their product and business development as a mentor at the Copernicus accelerator Program of the European Commission.

During this 1 year, I could go deeper into the topic of biodiversity and its importance in creating balanced ecosystems, playing a crucial role in mediating the effects of weather events and climate-related stressors.

Do you know that Biodiversity loss is as big a threat to humans as climate change is?

  • We loose 1 specie every 20 minutes.
  • Biodiversity loss is as big a threat to humans as climate change is.
  • Biodiversity encompasses many organisms that are so small that makes it hard to count and even harder to value.
  • Most of the birds can be used as indicators for biodiversity in general as they meet the criteria to tell us a suite of useful information about the environment.

The unprecedented and accelerating deterioration of nature in the past 50 years has been driven by overexploitation in land and sea use. More than a ⅓ of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 % of its freshwater sources are now used for crop or livestock production.

Agriculture is itself a major driver of biodiversity loss, with pesticides, soil erosion and forest clearance destroying habitats and sinking wildlife populations. And in addition to its effect on food systems, the devastation of the earth’s soil reduces its ability to retain water, hitting humans by increasing water stress and the frequency of floods.

A clear example which impact all of us: Without bees pollinating crops and trees turning carbon dioxide into oxygen, even basic human tasks such as eating and breathing become harder!

So what does BIRDWATCH do for the biodiversity?

BIRDWATCH is an interactive map that provides new ways to estimate and visualize changes in the suitability of habitats. It is aimed to increase awareness and help detect and improve biodiversity loss in lands.

 

Today many actions are taken as eating less meat or not using pesticides on crops, but it is hard to see its positive effects on lands and biodiversity.

Most of the birds can be used as indicators for biodiversity in general as they meet the criteria to tell us a suite of useful information about the environment

  1.  Birds are good indicators as they are highly sensitive to changes in the environment, serving as an early warning.
  2. Birds respond to changes in a predictable manner allowing to interpret the underlying environmental causes of the changes that are observed (like nesting, etc..)
  3. Any birds are common species, thoroughly known and studied (not rare and hard to find) which allows to draw meaningful conclusions

The intimate linkages between some bird species and their habitats make them useful for identifying ecosystem health. As such, they can be indicators of:

– deteriorating habitat quality and environmental pollution
– metrics to determine the success of restoration efforts
– signal the eminent outbreak of diseases

Birds are incredibly useful as indicators to both the fields of environmental science and to human health.

Today the integration of birds data is technically difficult, time consuming and results are often inconsistent, which causes serious problems for the international cooperation, the data exchange and finding of generally accepted conclusions. 

Birdwatch solve these problems by providing easy to use mapping services, that are generated completely with commonly available remote sensing (mainly Sentinel-2) and GIS-data.

“We have set up an online mapping service that can visualize habitat suitability probabilities for a subset of farmland birds for the german federal state Brandenburg and three different years so far. With the final product we should be able to provide high-resolution biodiversity data on a yearly basis. We are using a powerful machine learning algorithm in conjunction with scientific birdwatching data to generate results that are easily comparable and scientific accurate. This can provide government agencies and farmers with additional information for better decision making, reviewing current approaches and help achieve the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

Birdwatch can help fast track the decision process and actions making with direct impact on:

  • Environment: Ecosystems and habitats serve important roles in mediating the effects of weather events and climate-related stressors
  • Social life: Food security, human health, and cultural values are often deeply rooted in the natural environment. As an example, many medicines on which humans depend are derived from biodiversity.
  • Economic: ensuring the provisioning of natural resources and they ecosystem services they support can help sustain or bolster economies.

So now remember than even the smallest microorganism you can find in your garden or house is part of the balance of the ecosystem.

Birdwatch is powered by the company Lup-Umwelt, mapping nature and urban areas since 20 years.

 

Check out birdwatch map here


Some pictures of the closing event of the Copernicus Acelerator bootcamp in Stuttgart during the INTERGEO conference.


Sources:
https://www.environmentalscience.org/birds-environmental-indicators
https://www.dw.com/en/why-biodiversity-loss-hurts-humans-as-much-as-climate-change/a-48579014
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/beautiful-infographic-charts-ugly-reality-of-species-loss-128274426/
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48104037
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/03/stop-biodiversity-loss-or-we-could-face-our-own-extinction-warns-un
https://epi.envirocenter.yale.edu/2018-epi-report/biodiversity-habitat

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