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Stackyard News Oct 07

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F.A.B – Farmland Birds Are Go!

Finding ways to help the north east’s farmland birds will be the focus of an event organised by the RSPB and Natural England in Durham next month.

Yellowhammer by Tom Marshall RSPB

Yellowhammer by Tom Marshall RSPB

The two organisations are inviting the region’s agronomists, farm advisers and producers to a free Farming and Birds (FAB) conference on 19th November to explore ways of boosting the region’s important farmland wildlife.

The Farming and Birds conference will highlight the ‘Big 3’ needs of farmland birds - a safe place to nest, winter food, and spring/summer food - and how these can be incorporated into north east farms.

David Morris RSPB Regional Agricultural Adviser, said: “Farming is absolutely vital to the region, not just because it produces food for people and is an important employer, but because it provides habitats for a wide diversity of wildlife. The UK has developed some of the best agri-environment schemes in the world and we need to work with the farming community and agri-advisers to make sure that everyone knows how these initiatives can help farmland wildlife and farm businesses.”

Delegates will be able to find out more about techniques that can help reverse the declines which have affected farmland birds such as skylarks, tree sparrows, corn buntings and lapwings. The event is already proving popular and more than 80 people have booked a place. There are still a few places left and farm advisers who would like to attend the free event should contact the RSPB on 0191 233 4300.

James Brown, Land Agent at Smiths Gore, has already booked his place at the conference. He said: “I am delighted that the RSPB and Natural England are holding this event in the north east. From my personal experience, I know that many farmers want to make the most of opportunities to increase the number of birds on their farms. This event will help provide no-nonsense information about the funding available from agri-environment schemes and practical advice that can be used on local farms.”

The need for the Farming and Birds event has been highlighted by recent Government figures, which showed farmland bird numbers had reached their lowest point in England since records began in the early 1960s. Government figures show that specialist farmland birds such as yellowhammer (photo attached), skylark and corn bunting are now at their lowest level, having declined by over 60 per cent since 1970.

David Shaw of Natural England said: "From our work with farmers, we know that many are keen to incorporate management practices that will benefit the wildlife on their land but need good practical advice and funding in order to undertake this."

The North East Farming and Birds event is to be held at Durham County Cricket Ground on Monday 19th November, 10am-4.30pm. Speakers include representatives of the NFU, RSPB and Natural England. The event is free but advance booking is essential by calling the RSPB on 0191 233 4300.

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