The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - June 20

Italy's birdlife population is plummeting at an alarming rate due to the effects of modern farm practices, experts warned on Monday. The number of birds nesting in rural areas has fallen 10% since 2000, according to the results of research by the MITO2000 ornithological monitoring project. All of the species have seen their numbers fall over the last six years, they said, and a third have suffered a major drop. Among the worst hit species are swallows, goldfinches and larks.

"Birdlife is rich and diverse and birds quickly feel the changes that occur in their environments - they are a sort of barometer," explained Lorenzo Fornasari, the national coordinator of MITO 2000. Fornasari blamed the problem on unsustainable agricultural practices, like intensive farming and the increased use of chemicals on crops. "Another contributory factor is definitely the disappearance of hedgerows and rural areas not used for crop. These zones have always provided vital sources of food for birds".

Fornasari said the results collected in Italy are in line with alarming trends observed in other parts of Europe.