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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme has mixed success in reversing population declines of Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus, redshank Tringa totanus and common snipe Gallinago gallinago in lowland wet grasslands of southern England

Published source details

Wilson A., Vickery J. & Pendlebury C. (2007) Agri-environment schemes as a tool for reversing declining populations of grassland waders: mixed benefits from Environmentally Sensitive Areas in England. Biological Conservation, 136, 128-135


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Legally protect habitats Bird Conservation

A 2007 site comparison study of 677 plots covering 38,705 ha across southern England (Wilson et al. 2007) found that for three wader species, population trends were most favourable in nature reserves, compared with farmland under the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme. Between 1982 and 2002, common redshank Tringa totanus declined by 70% in the wider countryside but increased by 160% in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas. Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus showed a 48% decline in the wider countryside, and increased only in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (by 55%) and reserves with Environmentally Sensitive Area enhancement (121%). Common snipe Gallinago gallinago breeding numbers decreased everywhere (commonly with declines of 90% or more), although declines were smaller in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (?66%) and reserves in Environmentally Sensitive Area enhancement (?24%).

Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures Bird Conservation

A 2007 site comparison study of 677 plots covering 38,705 ha across southern England (Wilson et al. 2007) found that for three wader species, population trends were more favourable (increasing or declining less rapidly) in areas under the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme options aimed at enhancing habitat than in the less expensive Environmentally Sensitive Areas habitat maintenance options and in parts of the surrounding countryside not participating in the scheme. However, population trends were most favourable on nature reserves. Between 1982 and 2002, common redshank declined by 70% in the wider countryside but increased overall from 646 to 755 pairs (up 17%) on Environmentally Sensitive Areas designated land (compared with 160% increases on non-Environmentally Sensitive Areas reserves). Northern lapwing showed a 48% decline in the wider countryside, but increased in reserves with Environmentally Sensitive Areas enhancement by 121% (compared with a 55% increase in non-Environmentally Sensitive Areas reserves). Common snipe breeding numbers decreased everywhere, but declines were smaller in reserves in Environmentally Sensitive Areas (24% decline) compared with reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (66% decline) or the wider countryside (up to 90% declines). Breeding waders were surveyed in 1982 and 2002 at lowland wet grassland sites covering ten counties in England. In both years, three censuses were carried out at each site between mid-April and mid-June.

Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes) Farmland Conservation

A site comparison study of 677 plots covering 38,705 ha across southern England (Wilson et al. 2007) found that for three wading bird species, population trends were more favourable (increasing or declining less rapidly) in areas under Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme options aimed at enhancing habitat than in the less expensive Environmentally Sensitive Area habitat maintenance options and in parts of the surrounding countryside not participating in the scheme. Nature reserves were shown to be most effective at maintaining wader populations. Between 1982 and 2002, common redshank Tringa totanus declined by 70% in the wider countryside but increased overall from 646 to 755 pairs (up 17%) on Environmentally Sensitive Area designated land, with the largest increase observed in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (160%). Northern lapwing Vanellus vanellus showed a 48% decline in the wider countryside, and increased only in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (by 55%) and reserves with Environmentally Sensitive Area enhancement (121%). Common snipe Gallinago gallinago breeding numbers decreased everywhere (commonly with declines of 90% or more), although declines were smaller in nature reserves outside Environmentally Sensitive Areas (−66%) and reserves in Environmentally Sensitive Area enhancement (−24%). The Environmentally Sensitive Area scheme was introduced in 1987 and offered payments for either maintaining or enhancing landscape quality and biodiversity. Breeding waders were surveyed in 1982 and 2002 at lowland wet grassland sites covering ten counties in England. In both years, three censuses were carried out at each site between mid-April and mid-June.