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View of crops growing on farmland, Wallasea Island, Essex, UK

Image: Ben Hall

Roughly three-quarters of land in England is farmed in some way. The English countryside is hugely diverse, managed under a variety of farming systems. A vast array of species and habitats depend on farming and farming systems.

In eastern areas, farms are characterised by large, open arable fields growing crops - predominantly cereals. The birdlife of these areas includes important populations of seed-eating birds such as skylarks and yellowhammers.

The west tends towards smaller, enclosed grassland fields, grazed by cattle and sheep  and cut for winter forage. The priority birds in these regions are the species associated with remaining areas of more extensively managed grassland, such as damp and plant-rich areas. This includes wading birds such as curlews and lapwings, and songbirds such as the linnet and skylark.

Seed-eating birds have generally undergone large declines in the north and west, but strongholds still remain where appropriate arable cropping is still a part of the farming system.

The uplands are the last stronghold of our semi-natural farmed habitats, including open moorland and enclosed fields that can be home to significant populations of wading birds, such as lapwings and curlews. Upland agriculture is mostly focused on sheep, with some cattle production.