Bans on Night Harvesting Have Alleviated Threat to Migratory Birds

The head of conservation for BirdLife Europe applauded prohibitions on nighttime intensive olive harvesting in Spain and Portugal.
Junta de Andalucia
Oct. 15, 2020
Daniel Dawson

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The 2020 olive har­vest no longer poses a threat to migra­tory birds, accord­ing to the head of con­ser­va­tion for BirdLife Europe and Central Asia.

Iván Ramírez told Olive Oil Times that he arrived at this con­clu­sion after inter­nal dis­cus­sions at the orga­ni­za­tion on the threats faced by migra­tory birds head­ing south.

Governments could well change their minds in the future, but our work along­side the Spanish, Portuguese and European author­i­ties makes us believe they won’t reis­sue night har­vest­ing at super inten­sive olive groves.- Iván Ramírez, head of con­ser­va­tion, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia

Ramírez cited pro­hi­bi­tions on mech­a­nized night­time har­vest­ing in the high-den­sity groves of both Spain and Portugal as two of the rea­sons why he arrived at the con­clu­sion.

A tem­po­rary ban on night­time har­vest­ing was orig­i­nally issued by the Andalusian regional author­i­ties after a 2019 study found that mil­lions of birds were killed each year in high-den­sity olive groves dur­ing the har­vest.

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BirdLife

Several species of song­birds that migrate from north­ern Europe to Africa stop and rest in olive groves at night. During the har­vest sea­son, large machines equipped with bright lights, are deployed by pro­duc­ers to col­lect the olives.

The sud­den flash of bright lights com­bined with the noise of the machines dis­ori­ent the birds and pre­vent them from escap­ing. As a result, the birds are sucked into the har­vest­ing machines along with the olives and killed.

Shortly after Andalusia banned the prac­tice, sim­i­lar mea­sures were taken up in Portugal as well as the rest of Spain.

Both Portuguese and Spanish gov­ern­ments have now fin­ished their assess­ments and con­firmed mor­tal­ity of wild birds pro­tected under the European Union’s birds direc­tive,” Ramírez said. SEO/BirdLife and SPEA (the Portuguese soci­ety for the study of birds) have been part of, or con­tacted, for those stud­ies and we can con­firm the ban will remain in place.”

Governments could well change their minds in the future, but our work along­side the Spanish, Portuguese and European author­i­ties makes us believe they won’t reis­sue night har­vest­ing at super inten­sive olive groves,” he added. We will of course remain vig­i­lant.”





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