Birds Australia's forthcoming Atlas of Australian Birds has started winning awards - even before it is has been published!
Professor Henry Nix, President of Birds Australia (BirdLife's Australian Partner), accepted the 2003 Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research worth AU $10,000. This is one of the country's most prestigious scientific awards and follows on from the Banksia Award for Environmental Excellence awarded to Birds Australia's Gluepot reserve earlier this year.
"Birds Australia have done a remarkable job in creating the Atlas. It gives the first truly national perspective on the status of Australian bird life. Although it was only completed in June this year, both the information and the methodology are already being used by community groups and state authorities to plan environmental management and conservation efforts." —Mike Archer, Director of the Australian Museum
The landmark publication has taken over four years, four million bird observations, and 7000 volunteers to complete - making it one of the largest bird projects of its kind in the world. It is due to be published later this year.
The Atlas indicates that many of Australia's birds are in serious trouble. In particular, birds living in temperate woodland and ground ecosystems are declining in numbers. These include large ground-dwellers such as Emus, Australian Bustards, Brolgas, Wedge-tailed Eagles, and many smaller birds such as Scarlet and Flame Robins. However, a few birds are on the increase. Crested Pigeons, for instance, are exploiting a new ecological niche in suburban Melbourne and Adelaide
Many Australian ground-dwelling birds, such as the Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae, are declining.