Farmland birds numbers are still a concern, say conservationists

Farmland bird numbers are not recovering as fast as conservationists hoped, according to new research by a group of seven wildlife organisations.

The State of the UK’s Birds report, published on Friday (18 Aug), found that many farmland bird numbers have yet to begin recovery from the large decline of the 1970s and 1980s.

The report acknowledged that conservation work involving farmers had boosted numbers of cirl bunting, corncrake and stone-curlew in localised areas.

It also said that agri-environment schemes had been introduced to help boost numbers of the more widespread farmland birds such as grey partridge, turtle doves, skylarks and linnets.

But it concluded that such measures had “been put in place too recently to affect the population of such widespread species on a national scale”.

Dr Phil Grice, spokesman for English Nature, said: “Tackling the declines in widespread bird species will require sympathetic land management right across the countryside and not just on nature reserves.

“The UK’s various agri-environment schemes, such as Environmental Stewardship in England, now include measures targeted on declining farmland birds, such as the skylark and grey partridge.

“But if enough farmers take part in these schemes, there is every chance that we will see a turn around in the fortunes of the declining species over the coming decade.”