NSA delighted with results of Big Farmland Bird Count

20th April 2021

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is delighted to have been a recent partner in the delivery of the highest farmland bird count since the launch of the scheme back in 2014 by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. The results demonstrate the commitment to conservation efforts integrated into everyday farming methods practiced by British farmers.
The farmland bird count was completed in February this year with a 65% increase in actual individual counts submitted compared to 2020, which in itself was a record year. The area covered by the count was more than twice the area in 2020, with significantly more birds counted.
NSA Policy and Technical Officer, Sean Riches comments: “Lamb production supports rural communities as well as being a key player in delivering environmental stewardship schemes. Sheep can be effectively used for conservation grazing in areas that would be difficult to manage otherwise due to poor land quality or terrain. The use of livestock (particularly sheep) for conservation grazing is commonplace in national parks and ensures protection and access of these areas for the general public.
“Grazing by sheep and cattle is essential for maintaining good heathland, moorland and wetland sites. Research has indicated that songbirds for example, prefer the mosaic of habitats that sheep grazing provides and are present in higher numbers in areas grazed by sheep. It is therefore evident that the sheep industry in the UK makes a significant contribution to the environment.”
Whilst previous policies have not necessarily fully rewarded farmers for the critical conservation role in managing the land on which many species rely, many have worked to conserve biodiversity on the land, often at their own expense.
Changes in agricultural policies currently in progress, will further create more opportunities for integrating more conservation activities with livestock farming and responsible food production.
Organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) recognise the vital role farmers and land managers have in conserving and enhancing wildlife habitats and thus is committed to working to improve wildlife populations across all farms.
The RSPB actually farms themselves with more than 60 of the charity's nature reserves relying on farming. Through their own publications RSPB publicise success stories on work to help birds, promoting the vital conservation role of farmers and in their collaborations with the RSPB, at the same time acknowledging how many enjoy the wildlife on their farms.
For further information on the farmland bird count visit the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s website here.