FARMERS ARE set to benefit from a big shake-up of bird-watching volunteers, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The RSPB has introduced a new centralised system that will mean more flexibility and choice for volunteers wanting to help in farmland bird studies.
The organisation is already involved in projects on more than 2,000 UK farms, including helping with 200 agri-environment applications.
“Previously our volunteers were managed regionally, under a rather fragmented system,” said an RSPB spokesman.
“The new, centralised Volunteer Management System will help us support our 12,000 volunteers more efficiently, which means we‘ll be able to give farmers better quality advice and service.”
The VMS has been designed to give RSPB volunteers greater choice, faster responses to their enquiry, and help match skills and interests to opportunities anywhere in the UK, he added.
RSPB volunteers currently help farmers and landowners with farmland bird counts and identify local endangered species.
This is backed up with specialised stewardship advice and help in applying for agri-environment schemes.
The volunteers are estimated to contribute the equivalent of £3.7million worth of man hours and are most active on 20,000ha of RSPB-owned land in nature reserves.