New UK Guidelines for Farmers
Bird On! News
26th April 1996
Earlier this month, the UK Rural Affairs Minister, Tim Boswell, announced that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (MAFF) is sending guidelines to 11,000 arable farmers to help conserve seven species of farmland birds. These give practical advice on measures to encourage much loved species whose populations have been shown to be rapidly falling by the Common Birds Census of the British Trust for Ornithology.
All farmers with over 100 hectares of arable land will receive the Farmland Bird Management Guidelines automatically. Other interested parties can obtain copies free of charge from: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Beds SG19 2DL, UK (tel +44-1767-692365). Please mention Bird On!.
The species covered, and the percentage decline reported on farmland over 20 years, are: Tree Sparrow - down by 86%; Corn Bunting - down by 77%; Grey Partridge - down by 75%; Reed Bunting - down by 59%; Linnet - down by 56%; Skylark - down by 54%; Lapwing - down by 50%.
A fact sheet describes each bird, its annual cycle and needs as to habitat and diet. On the back the farmer is given practical advice on what to do to help the individual species, both farm-wide and by fine tuning management. For instance, with Lapwings, where set-aside has complete ground cover, it is suggested that exemptions should be requested in February to rotovate two hectare blocks where the birds could nest. For Skylarks the provision of two metre wide beetle banks across large fields is suggested. For Grey Partridge the value of conservation headlands - 6 metre wide strips along the field boundary - are recommended.