Understanding the social and economic factors driving land use change in sub‐Saharan West African wintering areas
There is widespread concern about the population status of Palaearctic-African migrant birds. Long-distance migrant species are declining across Europe. Of the long-distance migrant passerines species that travel to sub-Saharan Africa 71% have declined. The Sahel region is a key habitat for Palaearctic-African migrants and the majority depend on it at some stage in their life cycle (eg spring/autumn staging posts or wintering area). Land cover change, especially associated with agricultural intensification, has been rapid and extensive. Drought and habitat degradation in West Africa has been implicated in the declines in some migrant species but links between actual land cover change and declines in migrants are poorly understood and, with new field research, land cover change will probably be implicated in the declines of more species.
This project, together with ongoing ecological research, will provide a better understanding of the habitats the migrant birds occupy in the Sahel together with a framework for better understanding the complex mix of social and economic factors that drive land use change in the Sahel region. By understanding these drivers better, it will be possible to understand how to promote and test land use practices that are aimed at improving the conservation status of migrants in the Sahel as well as improving people's livelihoods. Through the workshops, papers and policy briefs, the results will be communicated and promoted to the ecological, development and aid communities in the UK and regionally through the BirdLife network in Africa.