'Lowest levels' for European farmland birds

Published on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 12:23
Posted by Scott Buckler

The RSPB has published figures showing that farmland bird populations across Europe are at their lowest levels since records began

The Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme report looked at population figures for 145 of the most common bird species in 25 European countries between 1980 and 2009.

One key finding is that half of the top ten most threatened birds across Europe are farmland birds.

This RSPB press release suggests the CAP is largely to blame for the decline as it does not encourage farmers to be wildlife friendly.

It also states that the RSPB are concerned that the proposals for the reform of the CAP do not contain enough support for agri-environment schemes to fund wildlife-friendly farming measures.


NFU comment:

NFU countryside adviser Dr Andrea Graham said: “Although these numbers are disappointing, it’s important to remember that the reasons behind the headlines are very complex and not all attributable to farming practices. Other factors at play include extreme weather events, predators and urbanisation.

“While the overall European trend is down, there is a lot of variation depending on which regions of Europe you look at. It's just too simplistic to pin the blame and indeed the solution only on the need for further CAP reform.

“It’s important to recognise the good work that has happened, including changes to the CAP which have put a much greater emphasis on the environment in recent years. For example, since 2007, the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) has accounted for a significant £3.9 billion of the CAP for the period 2007 to 2013. The main focus of the RDPE has been to support agri-environment schemes which enable farmers to participate in positive environmental management of the countryside.

“The uptake and engagement with farmers in these schemes and other voluntary activity has seen an impressive step change since 2005 and the industry is working hard with other industry, wildlife and government partners to understand the reasons for the continued decline in farmland bird populations and to take action to try to turn around the trend.

“Improvements to environment schemes such as the Entry Level Stewardship in recent years have helped increase the uptake of options that are tailored specifically at helping farmland birds thrive.

“The launch of the Campaign for the Farmed Environment in 2009 also had a real impact in helping farmers and growers decide how they might best retain and increase the environmental benefits provided by their farmland in a targeted and agronomically sensible way. The RSPB are a key partner in the Campaign and we will continue to work positively and constructively with them as a leading conservation organisation.”

Source: NFU

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