Farmers assist save Curlews in Severn and Avon Vale meadows

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Farmers have joined forces with conservationists from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Belief (WWT), the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG) and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership within the floodplain meadows of the Severn and Avon Vale to assist save the curlew – one of many UK’s rarest wading birds – as a part of the brand new Flourishing Floodplains venture working from 2022-2023.

As soon as a typical sight and sound within the British countryside, curlews have turn into an more and more uncommon a part of our rural life because of adjustments of their lowland habitats, equivalent to lack of species-rich floodplain meadows, and an abundance of predators. The UK holds 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants however in our altering landscapes they’re more and more unable to rear chicks so their inhabitants is quickly declining – the variety of breeding birds has dropped by about 65% since 1970.

With fears that the species gained’t survive with out intervention, the Flourishing Floodplain venture within the Severn and Avon Vale is seen as vitally essential to tell curlew safety work proper throughout the nation. This yr, researchers have discovered 18 nests – an enchancment on earlier years when numbers have been a lot decrease.

The nests have been discovered with the assistance of native farmers, who alert the venture workforce after they discover eggs of their fields – and likewise change after they mow to keep away from damaging eggs or newly hatched chicks. Their roles as “guardians of the curlews” are seen as vitally essential to assist shield these fast-declining waders.

Curlew, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries

In addition to the direct curlew conservation work, an essential a part of the Flourishing Floodplains venture is to grasp the hyperlink between the extent of species wealthy floodplain meadows within the Vale and curlew nesting websites. Floodplain meadows are uncommon and solely 1100 ha stay within the UK. The Severn Vale might comprise greater than 10% of the nationwide useful resource, however restoring the species-rich meadows is seen as important to assist the curlews who depend on the habitat to outlive.

“There’s pressing work occurring all throughout the UK to search out out why curlews are doing so badly however this venture might be known as the “crème-de-la-crème” of curlew analysis work within the nation because of the quantity of assets we’ve put into it,” defined WWT Senior Analysis Officer Kane Brides.

“The work consists of catching the birds and ringing them so we are able to see the place they go within the winter, whether or not they return to the identical space to nest, after which precisely the place their nests are – so we are able to then monitor the eggs and chicks to try to perceive higher why so a lot of them aren’t surviving till they’re sufficiently old to fly.

“The data we accumulate will then assist inform efforts everywhere in the nation to avoid wasting curlews – there’s an enormous variety of folks proper throughout the UK desperately making an attempt to avoid wasting these particular birds so I hope the work we’re doing right here in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire will make a very essential contribution to these efforts.

“However we couldn’t do it with out the assistance of the native farmers – the involvement of the farming group is an important characteristic of the curlews’ success.”

Native farmer Dave Banwell, who farms in Hasfield, Gloucestershire stated he was comfortable to do what he may. “Curlews are having such a tough time, and have been for therefore lengthy, something we are able to do to assist them we are going to”.

Floodplain Meadows Partnership supervisor Emma Rothero stated: “The Flourishing Floodplains venture is hoping to outline the extent and variety of the floodplain meadows within the Vale. Knowledge collected will assist make clear precisely how a lot current species wealthy floodplain meadow stays within the Vale and should effectively add considerably to the nationwide stock for this uncommon habitat. FWAG, are working with farmers to ship floodplain meadow restoration within the Vale this yr and we’re additionally in search of additional restoration alternatives as a part of the venture legacy.”

Sarah Wells, FWAG Southwest’s Senior Farm Surroundings Advisor, stated: “FWAG SouthWest are delighted that farmers are a part of the workforce conserving curlews within the Severn and Avon vales and that their essential efforts are being recognised.

“FWAG SouthWest has facilitated the ‘Severn Vale Guardians’ cluster group involving many of those farmers over the past 4 years, and going ahead can be serving to land managers to grasp ‘Pure Capital’ on their farms and the way this suits with the evolving Environmental Land Administration (ELM) Schemes.”

Flourishing Floodplains goals to revive threatened wetland habitats within the farmed panorama of the Severn and Avon Vale which can assist to extend biodiversity, retailer carbon, enhance soil and water high quality and join folks to nature. Proof gathered can be fed into ongoing consultations about new farm help schemes, and Native Nature Restoration Methods to make sure these uncommon habitats and related species, are protected and boosted in the long run. Companions within the venture embody Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG-SW) and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership led by the Open College (FMP-OU) and it’s funded by the Authorities’s Inexperienced Restoration Problem Fund.

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