RSPB proves you can farm for wildlife31/07/2012 07:05:16
RSPB farm proves ‘you can have your cake and your skylarks too’
August 2012. Profitable farming and increasing the populations of threatened wildlife can go hand-in-hand, says the RSPB. The Society has shared its 12 years of experience of managing an arable farm, where crop yields have stayed competitive and, against the national trend, numbers of farmland birds have tripled.
Hope Farm managed by the RSPB
Martin Harper is the RSPB’s conservation director. He said: “It is clear that agricultural production and environmental challenges remain inextricably linked, but Hope Farm – and other wildlife-friendly farms across the country – are living proof it’s possible to boost one while addressing the other.
Poul Christensen is the Chair of Natural England – the government's advisor on the natural environment. Visiting the farm to see the RSPB’s work first hand, he said: “Hope Farm shows what can be done with support from entry level Environmental Stewardship. Farmland birds are returning and the local environment is in great shape - water courses are full of life and the field margins are buzzing.”
Ian Dillon is the RSPB’s Hope Farm manager. Commenting on the RSPB report, he said: “Through careful consideration of the quantity and positioning of habitats on the farm, we have seen an incredible increase in bird numbers. If such increases were replicated elsewhere, they would reverse many of the declines in farmland wildlife that have occurred.
Moths and butterflies
Threefold increase in farmland birds
Martin Harper added: “Our experience has highlighted the importance of well-designed, well-resourced agri-environment schemes.”
Michael Sly, a Cambridgeshire farmer has been watching the developments at Hope Farm with interest. He said: “Many of the practical lessons learned on Hope Farm have led to the Farmland Bird Package, which has gone a long way to help farmers make the most of stewardship schemes.”
The report Hope Farm: farming for food, profit and wildlife is available on the RSPB website by following the link: www.rspb.org.uk/hopefarm