Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Increase ‘on-the-ground’ protection to reduce unsustainable levels of exploitation

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study in western Costa Rica (Vaughan et al. 2005) found an increase in a scarlet macaw Ara macao population from 185-225 individuals in 1990-4 to 225-265 in 1997-2003, following an increase in anti-poaching patrols and the confiscation of ladders and tree-climbing equipment (used to remove nestlings from nests) and several other interventions (see ‘Use education programmes and local engagement to reduce pressures on species’, ‘Promote sustainable alternative livelihoods based on species’, ‘Provide artificial nesting sites’ and ‘Guard nests to increase nest success’). In 1990-4 the population had been showing a 4%/year decline. In addition, following the start of intensive anti-poaching activities, the young-to-adult ratio (which is related to recruitment rate) was 9% in 1995-6 (compared to an average of 6% for 1990-2003). However, the intensity of the anti-poaching effort could not be maintained and when it was reduced the ratio fell back to 6%.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A before-and-after study on Selvagem Grande, Madeira, Portugal (Granadeiro et al. 2006), found that the population of Cory’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea borealis increased from approximately 7,000 pairs in 1980 and only 64 chicks on the island in 1976, to 18,100 breeding pairs in 1995 (a 5% annual increase) following the installation of a permanent warden and stricter de facto protection on the island. Before this, a series of severe harvesting events by Portuguese and Spanish fishermen in 1975-6 had reduced the population from 130,000-150,000 in the early 1900s, despite the de jure protection of the island from 1971. Despite a 13% decrease over 1995-8, the population was estimated at 29,540 pairs in 2005.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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