Jim Lawrence – BirdLife International

Hi I’m Jim Lawrence and I am development Manager of The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.  I joined BirdLife to launch the programme in July 2007.

Before I joined BirdLife I was a Marketing and Management Consultant and before that I worked for Ogilvy, one of the world’s leading communications agencies. I have been a keen birder since my early childhood and I guess, these days, I’m quite a well-known face on the British and International Birding Scene.

My colleagues and I at BirdLife International been working flat out since the UK pilot launch of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme at Birdfair in August 2007. Failure really isn’t an option for us – the meter is running for the world’s Critically Endangered (CR) Species and while there is still time to make a difference we are determined to give it our best shot. We can’t fix this on our own though – the world needs to take action and that’s what my work is all about – developing and promoting this BirdLife programme and recruiting the support of BirdLife Species Champions like Swarovski Optik. That is the best part of my job. It is a daily pleasure and motivation to meet so many people and organisations that care enough to take a stand and make a difference.

While a broad range of threats affect threatened birds, humans cause them all. Virtually all CRs are hit by habitat loss and degradation and the majority by direct mortality too. Agriculture, invasive species, logging, hunting and commercial and housing development are the top five threats that have got us in the mess we are in today but the darkening cloud of climate change is now looming over us too and as world population continues to rise, soon food, water and energy shortages will also escalate the problems the natural world faces.

But there is no point navel gazing.  I believe it is better to try to do something to help prevent extinctions…

The way we tackle conservation for any CR is firstly to carefully analyse what the threats are and then identify the main actions required to address them. The BirdLife International Partnership has actually been working on this for many years. One of the fundamental and ongoing activities undertaken by BirdLife scientists is to establish and continuously update this threats/action analysis for all of the world’s threatened species. Rigorous scientific analysis is the bedrock on which the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme is built.

The next stage is to identify which organisations or individuals are best placed to carry out the conservation actions required to address or alleviate the threats. We call these experts BirdLife Species Guardians. Appointing Species Guardians and giving them status and recognition in their own countries helps us to jointly develop a cohesive plan of action.

Once we have Species Guardians with action plans in place, the final part of the jigsaw is to find the money needed to fund the conservation. This is where BirdLife Species Champions step in by providing vital funding and in many cases vital publicity too.

As the BirdLife Preventing Extinction Programme has been gaining momentum, the number of Species Champions and programme supporters we’ve been able to recruit has been growing steadily too but we still urgently need many more if we are to save all of the world’s most threatened birds.

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