Worrying decline of birds

Government figures just released show that there continues to be serious doom and gloom for farmland bird declines in eastern England. The Defra report shows farmland bird populations have remained stable in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire.

Government figures just released show that there continues to be serious doom and gloom for farmland bird declines in eastern England.

The Defra report shows farmland bird populations have remained stable in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire.

But it's a very different story elsewhere in the country with eastern England seeing a worrying decline of 10 per cent.

The figures chart the increase and decline of bird populations between 1994 and 2008.

“This report emphasises the continuing north-south divide in farmland bird populations,” said Richard Gregory, head of Species Monitoring and Research at the RSPB. “This is largely a result of changing farming practices and land use patterns across England. With more fertile arable land in the south the effects of agricultural intensification have been felt more severely.

“Another possible factor is the small, but growing, impact of climate change on the UK's wildlife. The impacts of global warming are being felt first in the south. Habitat loss and degradation are still the biggest issues facing wild birds but we cannot ignore the new climate threat.”

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The population index for Turtle Dove is shown to have decreased in eastern England by more than 70 per cent. However, even with the continued evidence of a downward trend, the figures suggest the rate of decline may be slowing.

Gareth Morgan, RSPB's head of Agriculture Policy, added: “These figures cover a period up to two years ago and there are encouraging signs that the rate of decline may be slowing.

“We are confident that if farmers across the country get on board the industry's Campaign for the Farmed Environment and put environmental measures in place on their land for wildlife these figures will begin to turn around.

“Farmland birds such as skylarks, yellowhammers and lapwings have suffered in recent decades but there are ways farmers can make a positive difference.”