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Curlew sitting in grassy field

Image: David J Morris

Farming in Wales is dominated by sheep and beef production. The dairy industry is restricted to the more productive parts of the country as are the small pockets of arable.

Farming sustains many rural communities as well as supporting a unique culture and biodiversity. Wales has 1.6 million hectares of farmland, 80% of which is currently designated as Less Favoured Area.

Over recent decades, there has been a decline in mixed farming along with grassland intensification. This is reflected in steep declines in several farmland bird species over the same period.

The species affected are mainly wading birds, such as curlews and lapwings, and seed-eating birds such as yellowhammers, tree sparrows and corn buntings.
Wales' new agri-environment scheme Glastir, is much more objective than its predecessor (Tir Gofal) and is intended to deliver measurable outcomes at both a farm and landscape level in a cost effective way. 

RSPB Cymru and Wales Environment Link have been heavily involved in designing aspects of the scheme intended to address declines in farmland and woodland birds.

The RSPB in Wales is working for: 

  • a Common Agricultural Policy that rewards farmers for the provision of environmental goods and services for the benefit of wider society
  • a fully integrated agri-environment programme that includes effective entry level and targeted elements supported by environmentally beneficial grants, all of which should have demonstrable environmental outcomes, including carbon sequestration, water management and biodiversity
  • full implementation of the Commons Act 2006 to facilitate the entry of common land into agri-environment schemes
  • a Farm Advisory Service that delivers comprehensive business and environmental advice (including wildlife management) in an integrated manner
  • improved monitoring of the ecological outcomes of the Rural Development measures to ensure the schemes are delivering environmental objectives.