Call for green cash for farmland birds

Oystercatchers in decline.
Oystercatchers in decline.

A CONSERVATION charity, which has several reserves in the Borders, is calling for European cash to be spent on boosting farmland bird numbers.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) wants the Scottish Government to put as much CAP money into the next round of agri-environment schemes as possible in the wake of a report revealing mixed fortunes for 10 species of birds found on agricultural land.

SWT’s Bruce Wilson said: “We are calling for the maximum possible money to be taken from direct payments for owning land to be put into schemes that allow land mangers to help wildlife recover.

“This report shows that waders such as redshank and lapwing are still in decline and the Scottish Wildlife Trust has been asking the Scottish Government to be more strategic with the limited pot of money available to better target agri-environment money to areas where it will do the most good.”

The Scottish Natural Heritage report, from data collected by volunteers, found numbers of curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers and redshank had ‘significantly declined’, while seed eaters such as skylarks, tree sparrows and yellowhammers numbers rose.

More intensive farming, climate change and changes in the areas where farmland birds spend winters have been traditionally been blamed for the long-term declines.

SNH’s policy director Susan Davies said: “There are promising signs that agricultural programmes which supported farmers to, for example, leave set-asides and grass verges uncut are working to help birds like skylarks and sparrows.”