The human population of the San Francisco Bay Area has more than tripled since the 1950s, yet the ponds, open waters, mudflats, and marshes continue to support rich and abundant birdlife. Protection of birds and their habitats has resulted from decades of public involvement, conservation investments, and a strong frame- work of laws and regulations. However, we cannot assume that all threats to birds and their habitats have been averted and that all protection is permanent. We need an engaged public and informed decision-makers to continue to protect the hundreds of thousands of majestic and ecologically important birds that depend on the San Francisco Bay Estuary region.
The future state of the birds in San Francisco Bay region is at significant risk, resulting from the urban use of the area, the looming threat of climate change and associated sea level rise, and funding limitations during this period of economic uncertainty. It is time to develop and support solutions that benefit our environment, economy, and community. A more resilient San Francisco Bay will be better for birds, people, and the economy: healthy tidal marshes provide flood protection as sea levels rise; healthy streams improve our water quality; diverse and abundant bird populations provide us with recreation, inspiration, and enjoyment; and birds’ presence in the Bay Area indicates the sustained quality of those habitats and the services they provide.
Today the most fundamental policy challenges to maintaining and enhancing bird conservation in the Bay Area, across a broad array of habitat types, can be grouped into four categories: 1) funding; 2) climate change including sea level rise; 3) threats from development; and 4) balancing public use with adequate protections for birds. The State of the Birds Report offers policy recommendations for each.