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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Provide ‘sacrificial’ grasslands to reduce the impact of wild geese on crops Bird Conservation

Key messages

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Two studies in the UK found that managing grasslands for geese increased the number grazing there. However, both found that the birds were moving within a relatively small area (i.e. within the study sites) and therefore the grasslands may not reduce conflict with farmers.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A before-and-after study in Gloucestershire, England (Owen 1977) found that up to 87% of geese on a grassland site used a 130 ha area managed for them in 1975-6. The interventions used are discussed in ‘Reduce grazing intensity’, ‘Increase crop diversity’ and ‘Undersow spring cereals’.



A replicated, controlled trial in 1984-7 on a reserve on the island of Islay, west Scotland (Percival 1993), found more barnacle geese Branta leucopsis used wet pasture fields if they were re-seeded or fertilised than if they were unmanaged. However, increases were due to a redistribution of local birds, rather than new birds visiting the reserve. The author therefore suggests that improving the reserve grasslands will only minimally reduce conflict with farmers elsewhere on the island. The details of management interventions are discussed in ‘Re-seed grasslands’ and ‘Fertilise grasslands’.


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.