Cereals 2012: Deal signed to help save turtle doves

A three-year deal designed to boost numbers of turtle doves has been agreed by conservation specialists, farmers and commercial food businesses.

The agreement, signed at Cereals 2012 by the RSPB, Conservation Grade and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, will see the development of land-management strategies to maintain and recover the local population of turtle doves in the Wensum Valley, Norfolk, which is a hotspot for the birds.

The organisations will work with farmers to establish seed-rich plants on their land, such as fumitory and clover, then measure the impact on the birds’ diet and breeding success.

Natural England is supporting the agreement and will be looking for ways to use the findings of the project to evolve the design of its agri-environment schemes.

The project also involves the country’s largest food businesses, such as Allied Mills and Vitacress, via Conservation Grade’s nature-friendly farming accreditation scheme.

Once widespread across much of England and Wales, turtle doves have been lost from many areas. The species has remaining strongholds in East Anglia and the south east.

More information can be found at the project website, www.operationturtledove.org.

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