Save the birds

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

HERE on our fam­ily farm and wood­land on the broad arable acres of Lin­colnshire, there are cur­rently 18 UK Red List (at risk) bird species, of which at least 15 are al­most cer­tainly breed­ing—due in no small part to suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ment-spon­sored stew­ard­ship schemes. Un­der the cur­rent higher-level scheme, about a fifth of this farm is in con­ser­va­tion op­tions (the rest be­ing farmed very com­mer­cially). Floris­ti­cally rich field mar­gins are boost­ing in­sect pop­u­la­tions—the main driver for an in­crease in bird num­bers—and we’re clearly ‘mak­ing a dif­fer­ence’.

How­ever, the cur­rent scheme comes to an end in 2019 and we’re told by lo­cal Nat­u­ral Eng­land staff that there is no scheme to fol­low. We can’t con­tinue this work un­aided, es­pe­cially at a time of low com­mod­ity prices. Our sit­u­a­tion will, no doubt, be repli­cated all over the coun­try, with dis­as­trous con­se­quences for wildlife un­less Michael Gove hon­ours the en­vi­ron­men­tal pledges al­ready given, by guar­an­tee­ing the future of these schemes as a mat­ter of ur­gency. Fiona Bat­tle, by email

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