Farmland bird numbers in Wales continue to decline, according to a report by wildlife groups.

The fifth State of Birds in Wales report, compiled by five wildlife organisations including RSPB Cymru, claimed that steep declines in many iconic farmland species, including the curlew, starlings and the golden plover, continue unabated.

Changes in land use, loss of mixed farming, the switch from hay to silage and improved drainage, were blamed for destroying the birds’ habitat.

RSPB Cymru claimed that despite government commitment to stem the loss of wildlife, the current trend could result in the loss of bird species like the lapwing and curlew over the next decade.

To encourage farmers to do what they could to allow wildlife to flourish the organisation used the publication of the report to name a list of agri-environment heroes.

These, it said, had shown what could be achieved by combining their interest in their farm’s wildlife and good business, using the financial and advisory support available through the Welsh assembly’s Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme.

“These heroes set the standard for environmental practice in Wales,” said Dave Lamacraft, RSPB senior farmland bird advisory officer.

But encouraging others would require “significant expansion and sharpening” of Tir Gofal, and making options that worked for birds more attractive to farmers.

The assembly government had signed up to halting wildlife decline by 2010 and for recovery to be underway by 2026. To achieve this, schemes must have enough funding to allow enough farmers to follow the example of the 10 heroes.

The farms where conservation was working very well were scattered across Wales.

Wales’ 10 Bird Heroes

Glamorgan

  • Richard and Lyn Anthony
  • Peter Davies

Gwynedd

  • Hillary and Andy Kehoe,
  • Gareth Roberts,
  • Gwyn Thomas
  • Hywel Williams

Powys

  • Nigel and Karen Elgar

Pembrokeshire

  • Roger Mathias

Monmouthshire

  • Alan Morgan

Clwyd

  • Clyde and Helen Parker