More fields than ever before are being managed to halt the decline in farmland bird populations, according to new figures from Natural England.

More than 375,000 acres of arable farmland are now providing winter food and habitat through farmers adopting bird-friendly measures as part of their Environmental Stewardship agreements.

One of the pioneers of bird-friendly farming measures, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), says that its work on the Loddington Estate in Leicestershire proves that bird numbers do go up if the right methods are in place.

Dr Chris Stoate, the project?s head of research, said: ?We?ve been implementing stewardship options since 1992, and we?ve seen considerable increases in wild game birds and many farmland songbirds including biodiversity action plan species such as linnet.

?Our work suggests that for some species there is a direct link between the amount of habitat you create and the abundance of bird species. An example is whitethroat ? if you have a grass margin it provides them with an excellent habitat to nest in.?

Natural England believes that the figures show that farmers are taking ?significant steps? to reverse the decline in bird numbers. A spokesman said: ?The more land that?s managed in this way, the more birds it will sustain.?

The rest of this article appears in 15th June issue of Shooting Times.

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