Farm bird populations at new low

A key UK government wildlife indicator, Wild Bird Populations 2006, shows shows that the number of wild farmland bird species breeding in England is at the lowest level since records began, showing that these species have declined by about 60% since 1970. The RSPB called the UK government’s 2006 indicator “extremely depressing”. The farmland bird population index, which measures 19 species, showed a decline of more than 50% in bird numbers between 1977 and 1999, but then stabilised at this level. Defra suggested that the decline of species included in the index was a result of changes to agricultural processes, “including the loss of mixed farming, the switch to autumn sowing of cereals… and the loss of field margins and hedges”. Since the 1990s, farmers have received payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) to set aside some of their land and take it out of food production. It is feared that EU plans to phase out these payments would have a “devastating effect”, despite the introduction of other agri-environmental plans.

The chart shows the trend. Of further concern is the increase in sea birds because this may be a result of them having to find food further inland as drfit net fishing decimates coastal and estuary fish populations. It is clear that modern food production systems (agro-industry) is destroying natural habitats.


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