Study

Agri-environment schemes benefit four farmland bird species in the UK

  • Published source details Aebischer N.J., Green R.E. & Evans A.D. (2000) From science to recovery: four case studies of how research has been translated into conservation action in the UK. Pages 140-150 in: J.A. Vickery, P.V. Grice, A.D. Evans & N.J. Aebischer (eds.) The Ecology and Conservation of Lowland Farmland Birds. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Leave overwinter stubbles

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Delay haying/mowing

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Create beetle banks

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Manage hedges to benefit birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots, including lapwing and stone curlew plots

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Leave overwinter stubbles

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Use mowing techniques to reduce mortality

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Use mowing techniques to reduce chick mortality

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

Action Link
Bird Conservation

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

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Delay mowing or first grazing date on pasture or grassland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Create beetle banks

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Leave overwinter stubbles

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus increased from between 118 and 132 pairs in 1989 (Evans 1997) to 453 pairs in 1998 (Wotton et al. 2000) following a series of agri-environment schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside. Numbers on fields under specific agri-environment schemes increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase on neighbouring land not under the scheme.

    Additional references:

    Evans A.D. (1997) Cirl Buntings in Britain. British Birds 90, 267-282.

    Wotton S.R., Langston R.H.W., Gibbons D.W. & Pierce A.J. (2000) The status of the Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus in the UK and the Channel Islands in 1998. Bird Study, 47, 138-146.

  2. Delay haying/mowing

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of corncrakes Crex crex increased from 480 to 589 males between 1993 and 1998 (an average rise of 3.5%/year) following schemes to get farmers to delay mowing dates and to leave unmown ‘corridors’ to allow chicks to escape to field edges which are thought to increase chick survival.

     

  3. Create beetle banks

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix was 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges in place, compared to farms without these measures. Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

     

  4. Manage hedges to benefit birds

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of cirl buntings  Emberiza cirlus increased from between 118 and 132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998 following a series of schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside. Numbers on fields under the specific agri-environmental scheme increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase elsewhere.

  5. Leave uncropped, cultivated margins or plots, including lapwing and stone curlew plots

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of Eurasian thick-knees Burhinus oedicnemus increased from 150 pairs in 1991 to 233 in 1999, following an agri-environment scheme designed to provide uncultivated plots in fields and set-aside.

     

  6. Leave overwinter stubbles

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of cirl buntings Emberiza cirlus increased from between 118 and 132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998 following a series of schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside areas. Abundance on fields under the specific agri-environment schemes increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase elsewhere.

     

  7. Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of four farmland birds (grey partridge Perdix perdix, cirl buntings Emberiza cirlus, corncrake Crex crex and Eurasian thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus) increased following agri-environment schemes targeted at them. The individual schemes are discussed in the relevant interventions.

  8. Use mowing techniques to reduce mortality

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of corncrakes Crex crex increased from 480 to 589 males between 1993 and 1998 (an average rise of 3.5%/year) (Green & Gibbons 2000) following the introduction of Corncrake Friendly Mowing schemes to increase the number of chicks that survive mowing. Management includes leaving unmown ‘corridors’ to allow chicks to escape to field edges. The reviewers acknowledge that the corncrake population increase and the introduction of these schemes may be coincidental and a longer monitoring period is required to assess the effects of these schemes on corncrake numbers.

    Additional reference:

    Green R.E. & Gibbons D.W. (2000) The status of the Corncrake Crex crex in Britain in 1998. Bird Study 47, 129-137.

     

  9. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of cirl buntings increased from between 118 and 132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998 following a series of schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside. Numbers on fields under the specific agri-environment scheme increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase elsewhere.

     

  10. Use mowing techniques to reduce chick mortality

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of corncrakes Crex crex increased from 480 to 589 males between 1993 and 1998 (an average rise of 3.5%/year) following schemes to get farmers to delay mowing dates and to leave leaving unmown ‘corridors’ to allow chicks to escape to field edges.

     

  11. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix were 600% higher on farms where conservation measures aimed at partridges were in place, compared to farms without these measures (Aebischer 1997). Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

    Additional references:

    Aebischer N.J. (1997) Gamebirds: management of the Grey Partridge in Britain. Pages 131-151 in: M. Bolton (ed.) Conservation and the Use of Wildlife Resources. Chapman & Hall, London.

     

  12. Plant wild bird seed or cover mixture

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000)  found that the populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix was 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges in place, compared to farms without these measures. Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

     

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

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of four farmland birds (grey partridge Perdix perdix, cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus, corncrake Crex crex and Eurasian thick-knee (stone curlew) Burhinus oedicnemus) increased following agri-environment schemes targeted for them. The individual schemes are discussed in the relevant interventions.

     

  14. Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying)

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer, Green & Evans 2000) found that the UK population of cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus increased from between 118 and 132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998 following a series of schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside. Numbers on fields under these schemes increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase elsewhere.

  15. Delay mowing or first grazing date on pasture or grassland

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of corncrakes Crex crex increased from 480 to 589 males between 1993 and 1998 (an average rise of 3.5%/year) (Green & Gibbons 2000), following the introduction of ‘Corncrake Friendly Mowing’ schemes to increase the number of chicks that survive mowing. Management includes delaying mowing dates and leaving unmown ‘corridors’ to allow chicks to escape to field edges. The reviewers acknowledge that the corncrake population increase and the introduction of these schemes may be coincidental and a longer monitoring period is required to assess the effects of these schemes on corncrake numbers.

    Additional reference:

    Green R.E. & Gibbons D.W. (2000) The status of the Corncrake Crex crex in Britain in 1998. Bird Study, 47, 129-137.

     

     

     

  16. Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of grey partridge, Eurasian thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus and cirl buntings all increased following multiple measures including the provision of set-aside. Partridge numbers were 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges (including conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks) in place, compared to farms without these measures; the UK thick-knee population increased from 150 to 233 pairs from 1991 to 1999 (interventions were set-aside provision and uncultivated plots in fields); the UK cirl bunting population increased from 118-132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998, with a 70% increase on fields under schemes (with overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside), compared to a 2% increase elsewhere.

  17. Create beetle banks

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix were 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges in place, compared to farms without these measures (Aebischer 1997). Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

    Additional reference:

    Aebischer N.J. (1997) Gamebirds: management of the Grey Partridge in Britain. Pages 131-151 in: M. Bolton (ed.) Conservation and the Use of Wildlife Resources. Chapman & Hall, London.

  18. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A literature review of studies in the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix was 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges in place, compared to farms without these measures. Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

     

  19. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of cirl buntings Emberiza cirlus increased from 118-132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998 following a series of agri-environment schemes designed to provide overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside. Numbers on fields under the specific agri-environment scheme increased by 70%, compared with a 2% increase elsewhere.

  20. Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields

    A 2000 literature review (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the UK population of Eurasian thick-knees Burhinus oedicnemus increased from 150 pairs in 1991 to 233 in 1999, following an agri-environment scheme designed to provide uncultivated plots in fields and set-aside.

     

  21. Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that the populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix, Eurasian thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus and cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus all increased following multiple measures including the provision of set-aside. Partridge numbers were 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges (including conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks), compared to farms without these measures. The UK thick-knee population increased from 150 to 233 pairs from 1991 to 1999 (interventions were set-aside provision and uncultivated plots in fields). The UK cirl bunting population increased from 118-132 pairs in 1989 to 453 pairs in 1998, with a 70% increase on fields under schemes (with overwinter stubbles, grass margins, and beneficially managed hedges and set-aside), compared to a 2% increase elsewhere.

  22. Leave headlands in fields unsprayed (conservation headlands)

    A 2000 literature review from the UK (Aebischer et al. 2000) found that populations of grey partridge Perdix perdix were 600% higher on farms with conservation measures aimed at partridges in place, compared to farms without these measures (Aebischer 1997). Measures included the provision of conservation headlands, planting cover crops, using set-aside and creating beetle banks.

    Additional references:

    Aebischer N.J. (1997) Gamebirds: management of the grey partridge in Britain. Pages 131-151 in: M. Bolton (ed.) Conservation and the Use of Wildlife Resources. Chapman & Hall, London.

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