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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Species richness and population densities were significantly higher on set-aside land than on nearby conventional fields in Europe and North America.

Published source details

Van Buskirk J. & Willi Y. (2004) Enhancement of farmland biodiversity within set-aside land. Conservation Biology, 18, 987-994


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

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Bird Conservation

A meta-analysis of 127 studies comparing set-aside and conventional land (Van Buskirk & Willi 2004) found that species richness and population densities of birds were significantly higher on set-aside land than on nearby conventional fields in Europe and North America.  Positive effects were greatest on larger and older areas of set-aside, when the comparison conventional field was crops rather than grasses and in countries with more arable land under agri-environment schemes and with less intensive agriculture.  Overall, variation in establishment methods and types of set-aside made little difference to the positive effect on biodiversity, although species richness was increased more when set-aside was naturally regenerated rather than sown.

Provide or retain set-aside areas in farmland Farmland Conservation

A review and meta-analysis of 127 studies comparing set-aside and conventional land (Van Buskirk & Willi 2004) found that species richness and population densities of plants, birds, insects and spiders and harvestmen were significantly higher on set-aside land than on nearby conventional fields in Europe and North America. Positive effects were greatest on larger and older areas of set-aside, when the comparison conventional field contained crops rather than grasses, in countries with more arable land under agri-environment schemes and with less intensive agriculture. Overall, variation in establishment methods and types of set-aside made little difference to the positive effect on biodiversity, although species richness was increased more when set-aside was naturally regenerated rather than sown.