Managing landscapes, food chain and habitat is key to reversing the decline of UK birds
Why we face a stark choice over how we protect our birds during the next 30 years
THIRTY YEARS FROM now, the UK will be facing one of two scenarios when it comes to bird population. It is entirely our choice which of the two ‘diary entries’ below are written in the year 2046 – and be quite clear; both are entirely possible. Be even clearer, there will be no middle ground.
We will either think big; realising landscapes, food chains and varied habitats on a large scale, or think small, and in trying to save the last few postage stamps of habitat, and their birds, watch them slip through our grasp as they isolate and fade. So it up to us, as conservationists, to catch up with every other first-world country – from America to Germany – and rebuild our wild places, for good. If there is one key to local survival in declining birds, it’s food. But if there is one key to population survival, it’s connection – retaining landscapes, with many birds, in one place. This is the largest, long-term challenge we face, if, in 30 years’ time, that second diary entry is to be the more likely of the two. Habitat is about giving birds a home. Food is about keeping those birds and their young alive. Connection is about keeping populations alive – decade after decade, century after century. You can have habitat, and you can have food; but without connection in a population, extinction will always follow. Isolation is extinction. Many of us know that Wolves need connection and space in order to hunt, den, find new mates and retain social cohesion. Some packs need 1,500 square kilometres as a connected home range. Connection is a necessity for all our birds, not just our residents, but also the smallest of migrants.