5 January 2001
Stop nagging on birds – Union

By FWi staff

CONSTANT criticism from a leading bird charity may discourage farmers from taking part in conservation initiatives, warn producers representatives.

The National Farmers Union accuses the RSPB of continually knocking farmers without giving sufficient emphasis to positive initiatives.

On Friday (05 January) the RSPB claimed that the decline of farmland birds in the UK is the worst in Europe, and due to intensive agriculture.

NFU chief rural development and countryside advisor Andrew Clark said he was “disappointed the RSPB had begun the year in such a negative manner”.

He warned that there was “a serious risk” that persistent negative coverage could lead to fed-up producers opting out of conservation work.

“Farmers are committed to the countryside and need to be treated sensitively, particularly at a time when difficulties facing the industry,” said Mr Clark.

Negative coverage obscured beneficial work farmers have been undertaking, including the BirdAid feeding scheme in conjunction with the RSPB, he said.

Mr Clark suggested that the wealth of data on British farmland bird numbers over the years skewed figures to make them look worse than other countries.

Less complete records in other European countries could mask the true extent of farmland bird declines there, claimed Mr Clark.