Farmland bird population (i68)

In 2021, the index of the farmland bird population in Belgium was 37.7 (from 100 in 1990). To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must increase. Between 2000 and 2021, the trend is unfavourable (assessment of November 2023).

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Farmland bird population - Belgium and international comparison

index 1990 = 100

//: Average Growth Rates

data for a growing number of countries between 1990 and 2018, ranging from 10 to 25 countries

INBO, Natagora, SPARNE-DEMNA (2022), Direct communication 13/06/2022 and Eurostat (2023), Common bird index by type of species - EU aggregate [sdg_15_60], (consulted on 18/10/2023).

Farmland bird population by region - Belgium

index 2007 = 100

Flemish Region----100.095.786.284.483.085.3--0.2-1.1
Walloon Region166.4116.5100.
//: Average Growth Rates

INBO, Natagora, SPARNE-DEMNA (2022), Direct communication 13/06/2022 and Eurostat (2023), Common bird index by type of species - EU aggregate [sdg_15_60], (consulted on 18/10/2023).

Definition: the farmland bird population index is an aggregated indicator of demographic estimates of 15 species of farmland birds with 1990 as the reference year (1990 = 100). The data come from annual surveys on breeding birds and are collected in the framework of a pan-European bird monitoring network. The data come from INBO, Natagora and SPARNE-DEMNA for Belgians and the regions and from Eurostat for Europe (26 countries).

The birds were chosen because “Birds are seen as good “indicator species” for the integrity of ecosystems and biological diversity. Being close to or at the top of the food chain, they reflect changes in ecosystems rather rapidly compared to other species (OECD, 2012, p. 94). The evolution for other groups of species may therefore be different. The reader can also consult a composite indicator with many species, the Living Planet Index, which was calculated for Belgium in 2020 (WWF, 2020). It is not included here because it is not yet certain that it will be recalculated in the future.

Goal: the farmland bird population index must rise.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 15.5: “Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species”.

The Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity of December 2022 has adopted new goals, among which "Ensure that areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry are managed sustainably, in particular through the sustainable use of biodiversity […] and other innovative approaches contributing to […] conserving and restoring biodiversity and maintaining nature’s contributions to people, including ecosystem functions and services" (target 10, CBD, 2022).

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development contains objective 37: “The goods and services provided by ecosystems will be restored, valorised and used prudently and sustainably, contributing directly to the maintenance of biodiversity (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

International comparison: the farmland bird population is declining in the EU, but at a slower rate than in Belgium. In Europe, the average annual growth rate is -1.4% between 1990 and 2021, compared to -3.1% in Belgium.

UN indicator: the selected indicator is related to indicator 15.5.1 - Red List Index. The red list gives each species a threat level corresponding to its risk of extinction in the short or medium term. This indicator evolves very slowly and is not regularly updated. The farmland bird population index is therefore used as a proxy to represent the entire biodiversity.


More information is available in French and Dutch.