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After the Pandemic: Inter-nationalist Wildlife Conservation Initiative

ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds Campaign to ‘Send Songbirds’ to Biodiversity Hotspots

Published 04-06-20

Submitted by Zoological Lighting Institute

The Zoological Lighting Institute™ (ZLI) and its ZLI Save a Billion Birds! Campaign™ announced plans to offset expected devastation to wildlife due to the inevitable economic pressures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. By advocating and offering planning to achieve bird protections in the northern hemisphere, direct exploitation of impoverished biodiversity hotspots in the southern hemisphere will be offset by songbirds ‘sent’ to these regions. ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ campaign now provides planning services and access to design services, that identify opportunities for corporations, private institutions and public agencies to effectively offset the devastating loss of birds internationally that most likely will, in post-pandemic days, get worse.

ZLI focuses upon the role of natural light in biology. The charity funds research as to how light affects animal physiology, animal senses and the ways in which it influences relationships between animals in space and time. ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ campaign gets a bit more specific, concentrating on these subjects as they matter for birds. As significant research suggests that artificial light at night (ALAN) and exposed transparent/reflective glass kill several billion birds (including birds representing over a thousand species) annually, ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ has expanded from serving as a research funding initiative to include solution facilitating resources <<https://zoolighting.org/subdepartment/zli-wildlife-friendly-design/>>. COVID-19 makes the urgency of such planning more evident than ever, as migratory birds are necessary to keep ecosystems functioning in areas most susceptible to the emergence of zoonotic diseases. The intent is to link corporations and government agencies to wildlife sensitive development, and to include the financial value of ecosystem services (over $44 trillion US Dollars by peer-reviewed estimates) within design and development decisions.

hummingbird and flower

The emphasis is on bird-friendly planning, rather than bird-friendly product. Despite the devastating news of declining bird populations, bird-friendly design has been pursued on a project by project basis, often relying on the ad-hoc adoption of privately tested products. Yet just as preventative medicine requires a coordinated and international approach, preventative wildlife conservation requires planning and public engagement to mitigate and remove the devastating effects of ALAN and exposed glass. A recent study at Cornell University, showed that birds in developed areas are currently at higher risk than those in soon to be over-stressed areas <<https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/09/more-4-billion-birds-stream-overhead-during-fall-migration>>.  Bird-friendly planning offers community leaders and responsible companies the opportunity to keep seemingly distant biodiversity hot-spots safer by taking meaningful action in our campuses, offices and development here at home. ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ advocacy of planning (rather than product) recognizes the financial realities of development as well, by providing a platform to engage audiences to help fund necessary change. Planning, and recognizing that birds are a ‘resource in kind’ that can be sent back to over-stressed biodiversity hot-spots, is an underemphasized means of corporate social responsibility.

“We have to take our cue from UNEP (the United Nations Environmental Program) and the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity),” offers ZLI Executive Director James Karl Fischer. “In times of financial stress, people without substantial resources turn to nature for sustenance. Hunting, fishing, agriculture; all of these provide food from nature when none is available to be had from industrialized sources. But if wild populations aren’t managed or supported, individuals can do more harm than good. There are many ways to help of course, but it is important to save the animals in those ecosystems because when they are gone, they are gone, and people will starve while also creating future pandemics. No one is as disconnected from this as we like to imagine…”

Dr. Fischer continues…“In the northern hemisphere, people are connected to global wildlife habitat more than they realize. Many migratory birds that we see in our cities, backyards and parks are the same birds that help to keep local environments going in the southern hemisphere. If they are killed here, they do not contribute to the rainforests or other biodiversity hot-spots there. Losing birds makes it that much more difficult for habitats to recover from improper resource-acquisition damage. With rising likelihood of human suffering due to economic pressures, it is more important than ever to protect birds from meaningless threats in the north. That means paying attention to the billions of birds killed by glass and artificial light, and making the necessary adjustments to our buildings. That is what Save a Billion Birds!™ has always been about, but it is more important than ever that resourced groups, companies, institutions and governmental agencies take action now through preventative planning.”

The United Nations has been clear as to the value of birds to the economy (see links below). The loss of migratory birds destroys ecosystems and lowers environmental quality, while requiring increased financial expenditures to make up for resources that nature would otherwise provide freely. Birds are essential to agriculture, disaster mitigation, and human health care through the ecological services that they provide (such as improved air and water quality). As we have seen, contact with stressed and monolithic wildlife populations enhances zoonotic diseases. Migratory birds face numerous threats as they travel from one nation to another, across the southern to northern hemisphere and back. Billions across the northern hemisphere die by striking glass, and so cannot replenish their value in African, South American and Southeast Asian biodiversity hotspots. Many specific alternatives to exposed exterior bird-killing glass are available to prevent bird deaths, but adoption depends on leadership and a strategy to effect it. ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ campaign seeks to create leaders willing to take on the challenge of protecting birds, and to engage sympathetic audiences and markets through their commitment to public health, safety and welfare.

ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds! Send a Songbird Planning Program is available to private, corporate and institutional stakeholders, and is described at greater length at https://zoolighting.org/subdepartment/zli-wildlife-friendly-design/. An upcoming documentary film ‘Save a Billion Birds!’ describes the need and process of bird-friendly planning, and will begin shooting in California and Chile, (in conjunction with coordinated versions from South Africa to the UK and Thailand to South Korea) as investments and sponsorships are secured. For more information about ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds!™ campaign, and how to engage the charity to ensure that development mitigates biodiversity-loss, please ask to speak with one of ZLI’s Save a Billion Birds! Campaign Committee Leaders directly at saveabillionbirds@zoolighting.org.  

About The Zoological Lighting Institute:

A unique charitable 501 c(3) with a mission to ‘Support the Sciences of Light and Life through the Arts for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Conservation,’  The Zoological Lighting Institute embraces the concept of ‘PhotoDiversity,’ referring to the importance that the diversity of natural light holds for living things, as well as the importance of cultural, social and human diversity has for science and its application. With an international Board of Directors overseeing four departments, including Film & Media, Education, Sustainable Design and the PhotoSciences, The Zoological Lighting Institute is breaking new terrain in the application of science to address the under appreciated realm of light and life.

Current Campaigns include Beached, Bearanoia, Insect Apocalypse, Otohime’s Time, Precious Light and Save a Billion Birds!. Please visit www.zoolighting.org for more information on Sponsorships, Donor Advisory Fund (DAF) Giving Opportunities and Matching Contribution Programs.

References and Resources:

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/video/message-nature-coronavirus
https://www.cbd.int/financial/values/unitedkingdom-valueliterature.pdf
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6461/120
https://www.muhlenberg.edu/academics/biology/faculty/klem/aco/Bird-window.html
https://www.3billionbirds.org
https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/bring-birds-back/

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For more information, please contact:

Stephen Villante Communications Director

Phone: 212-317-2927

James Karl Fischer Executive Director

Phone: 212-317-2927

Phone 2: 973-979-1984

Brett Seymoiur PhotoSciences Director

Phone: 269-501-8761

Zoological Lighting Institute logo

Zoological Lighting Institute

Zoological Lighting Institute

A unique charitable 501 c(3) with a mission to ‘Support the Sciences of Light and Life through the Arts for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Conservation,’ The Zoological Lighting Institute embraces the concept of ‘PhotoDiversity,’ referring to the importance that the diversity of natural light holds for living things, as well as the importance of cultural, social and human diversity has for science and its application.

With an international Board of Directors overseeing four departments, including Film & Media, Education, Sustainable Design and the PhotoSciences, The Zoological Lighting Institute is breaking new terrain in the application of science to address the under appreciated realms of light and life. Current Campaigns include Beached, Bearanoia, Insect Apocalypse, Otohime’s Time, Precious Light and Save a Billion Birds!. Please visit www.zoolighting.org for more information on Sponsorships, Donor Advisory Fund (DAF) Giving Opportunities and Matching Contribution Programs.

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