New research shows wildlife-friendly farming can quickly help bird populations bounce back, but large-scale rollout will be needed to reverse long-term declines
Wed 3 Jan ‘18 06.01 GMT
Planting wildflowers and protecting nests on farms enables birds, from skylarks to starlings, to bounce back rapidly from long-term declines, new research shows.
Intensive agriculture has led to overall farmland bird numbers in the UK plunging by more than 50% since 1970 and the fall has not stopped yet, with the latest figures showing a 9% drop from 2010 to 2015.
The new analysis shows that subsidy schemes that pay farmers to use about 10% of their land to support birds and other wildlife can work. But the RSPB experts behind the new study say such schemes will have to increase hugely in size just to prevent further falls in numbers.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “These results show that with the right management, and more targeted support for farmers, we can reverse the decline in numbers of our birds.”