Action: Set minimum distances for approaching birds (buffer zones)
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
- We captured no evidence for the effects on bird populations of setting minimum distances for approaching birds.
'No evidence' for an action means we have not yet found any studies that directly and quantitatively tested this action during our systematic journal and report searches. Therefore we have been unable to assess whether or not the action is effective or has any harmful impacts. Please get in touch if you know of such a study for this action.
Disturbance by people on foot or in vehicles can reduce birds’ use of habitats, or drive them into less favourable habitats. Preventing people from approaching birds too closely may help reduce disturbance. We found two studies that investigated the distances at which birds were disturbed by people: one found that people on foot disturbed birds at greater distances than people in boats (Rodgers & Smoth 1995); the second found that different species reacted differently to disturbance (Rodgers & Schwikert 2002). Both recommended buffer zones of between 100 and 180 m around breeding or feeding birds.
Rodgers, J.A. & Smith, H.T. (1995) Set-back distances to protect nesting bird colonies from human disturbance in Florida. Conservation Biology, 9, 89–99.
Rodgers, J.A. & Schwikert, S.T. (2002) Buffer-zone distances to protect foraging and loafing waterbirds from disturbance by personal watercraft and outboard-powered boats. Conservation Biology, 16, 216–224.