Friday, 20 July 2007

Study highlights ways to save farmland birds

The declines of farmland bird species like Skylarks, Yellow Wagtails and Yellowhammers can be reversed by following six techniques aimed at encouraging wildlife, according to a new report published by SAFFIE – Sustainable Arable Farming For and Improved Environment.

The report, based on a five-year study by the 21 farming, envinronment and research groups that form SAFFIE, goes on to say that the suggested measures can all be implemented without harming farmer’s profits but only if appropriate support is provided by government.

By leaving small patches of bare ground, for Skylarks, and planting strips of grasses and wild flowers at field edges, populations of birds can be dramatically increased more than three fold. Using selective herbicides can remove fast-growing grasses and allow beneficial plants to thrive. A combination of the various techniques would help the widest range of species.

Graham Wynne, RSPB Chief Executive, said: "The recommendations SAFFIE is making could make an enormous contribution to helping farmland species recover their numbers and making rural businesses more sustainable. We very much hope the government and Natural England will take these proposals on board."

A summary of the report can be downloaded here.

Photo: Yellowhammer by Steve Young (