The Urban Bird Treaty and Putting It’s Mantra To Work
What is the Urban Bird Treaty? The full name is The Urban Conservation Treaty for Migratory Birds. It began in 1999 with two cities – New Orleans and Chicago – and falls under the Migratory Bird Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Whereas the Migratory Bird Program works in conjunction with other agencies to help understand bird migration in general, the Urban Bird Treaty is designed specifically to draw attention to the perils and issues of birds and the urban environment.
The Urban Bird Treaty has provided matching grants to nineteen cities thus far who have agreed, with local partners, to increase awareness of migrating birds and their habitats, as well as providing other bird conservation actions and educational programs.
Goals of the program include the following components:
- Protect, restore, and enhance urban/suburban habitats for birds
- Reduce hazards to birds
- Educate and engage citizens in monitoring, caring about, and advocating for birds and their conservation
- Foster youth environmental education with a focus on birds
- Manage invasive species to benefit and protect birds
- Increase awareness of the value of migratory birds and their habitats, especially for their intrinsic, ecological, recreational, and economic significance
Cities can become effective sanctuaries for both migrating and native birds. This program helps to underscore the need for alliances between governmental agencies, local bird and nature organizations, and the public in effectively working together toward awareness and habitat improvement.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times helps to underscore how the joining of habitat creation and education can make a win-win situation. The Leo Politi Elementary School took a corner lot of a mere 5,000 square feet and turned it into an inner city oasis. Clearing cement and weedy grasses out of the way, they planted the area with native plant species. After only three years, birds and insects abound.
Students have an infectious love for the area as well, as is proven by the increased scores on Science testing. Standard test scores have improved six fold!