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Wader-friendly Farming Initiative

Calling curlew

Image: Nigel Blake

The Wader-friendly Farming Initiative is a partnership between RSPB Scotland, NFU Scotland, the Scottish Crofting Federation, the Scottish Agricultural College, and, most importantly, farmers across Scotland.

Farmland wading birds benefit from active farming. This initiative aims to promote the incorporation of cost-neutral techniques that benefit farmland wading birds into everyday practice.

By demonstrating your support you will receive information on the simple steps you can take, and you will be championing the important voluntary contribution the farming community can make in addressing a key nature conservation issue.

Scottish Farmers and Farmland are vital

Farmland wading birds are a charismatic group of birds that includes lapwings, oystercatchers, curlews and snipe. All are long-legged, ground nesting birds, whose chicks leave the nest soon after hatching. Lapwings and oystercatchers are typically found in the arable and mixed farming areas of East Scotland. They are also present on many hill livestock areas in the north and west of the country – along with curlews and snipe.

Wading birds are a familiar sight across the Scottish Countryside; however surveys show that the populations of some – in particular lapwings and curlews – are declining at an alarming rate.

Drainage of wet grassland habitats, higher stocking densities and increased levels of nest and chick predation are all contributing factors. It is increasingly apparent that waders avoid undergrazed areas – particularly on wetter ground – where the vegetation becomes too coarse as suitable nesting and foraging habitat.

Farmers and crofters can help wildlife in several simple ways, such as:

  • Avoiding nests while cultivating the ground
  • Not rolling damp parts of fields
  • Grazing wet grasslands sufficiently to maintain an appropriate sward structure
  • Reducing or restricting livestock at breeding sites during breeding season
  • Maintaining and reinstating damp areas within fields used by farmland waders

How you can help

We recognise that farmers have a vital role to play in the Scottish countryside. If you want a free information pack or free advice to help wading birds on your farm please sign up below.

Get your free information pack