EU LIFE+ project - securing the future of the stone-curlew in the UK

Working with farmers and communities, we are working to reduce the stone-curlew's dependence on intervention from conservationists, making it more sustainable.

 Stone curlew Burhinus oedicnemus, at autumn roost, Normanton Down RSPB reserve.


Stone-curlews' love of bare stony ground on short grassy heathland and downland, and their sensitivity to disturbance put them at risk in the 20th century. We've worked with farmers and landowners for 30 years to successfully recover the stone-curlew population, by protecting vulnerable nests on farmland. Now we need to reduce the stone-curlew's dependency on our intervention so that we can release funds to help recover other threatened species.

By providing advice and support, and raising awareness, we hope to increase the amount of safe nesting habitat such as semi-natural grassland and nest plots on farmland. By the end of the project we hope three quarters of UK stone-curlews will be nesting on these safe habitats. This project covers two areas, for more details on the project's activities near you, please go to the Wessex Stone-curlew Project or Eastern England Stone-curlew Project pages links on the right. 


  • Provide information and advice on stone-curlews to a wide audience including farmers, land managers, local residents, decision makers and other organisations, to enable them to take action. 
  • Double the carrying capacity of short grass-heath and downland (semi-natural habitats) for nesting stone-curlews by developing management plans. 
  • Improve the deployment of, and develop better management advice for fallow plots on arable farmland, to provide effective safe nesting habitat within arable crops where nests could be destroyed. 
  • Work with Natural England to develop and strengthen the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, to ensure practical options are available to benefit stone-curlews, enabling more safe nesting habitat to be created cost efficiently on farmland (both arable and semi-natural grassland). 
  • Reduce the long term need for annual interventions and intensive population monitoring, by supporting/developing innovative ways of monitoring the population and protecting nests on cropped land. 
  • Raise awareness of the importance of the three Natura 2000 sites designated for stone-curlews: the Breckland, Salisbury Plain and Porton Down Specially Protected Areas (SPAs), and gain more support for site protection. 



By the end of the project: 
  • Over 100 nest plots on arable land were entered into new stewardship scheme agreements during the project bringing the total to nearly 300.
  • A new team of 26 volunteers is carrying out stone-curlew monitoring and nest protection where needed across the country.
  • Many more landowners are managing their own monitoring and nest protection. 
  • Stone-curlews are re-colonising areas of restored grass heathland, with a pair taking up residence on an area not used for 40 years in 2015.


Planned Work

This project was completed in March 2017. To find out more about work undertaken view the regional project pages or the downloads below.


  • The project’s objectives are supported by Natural England, and we will be working closely with other organisations, landowners and land managers including the Ministry of Defence and Wildlife Trusts.


  • Funded by EU LIFE+,supporting the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, and Natura 2000 network of protected sites.


Lessons from the Breaking New Ground project PDF

Ground disturbance - guidance note

Report on the Stone-curlew LIFE End of Project Conference PDF, 1.82 MB. 30 March 2017

Achieving Sustainable Species Recovery

Summary report PDF, 1.94Mb. 24 February 2017

Securing the stone curlew

PDF, 23.8Mb. 27 June 2018

Heroes Booklet

PDF, 527Kb. 24 February 2017

The Brecks Newsletter February 2017

PDF, 1.24Mb. 24 February 2017

Chalk Country Newsletter February 2017

News from the Brecks on our work with stone-curlews and other wildlife. PDF, 2.22Mb. 15 June 2016

The Brecks Newsletter June 2016

News from the Brecks on our work with stone-curlews and other wildlife. PDF, 605Kb. 8 February 2016

The Brecks Newsletter January 2016

Your regional stone-curlew project newsletter. PDF, 889Kb. 8 February 2016

Chalk Country Newsletter January 2016

News from the Brecks on our work with stone-curlews and other wildlife. PDF, 861Kb. 20 June 2016

The Brecks Farmer Newsletter June 2015

News from the Brecks on our work with the stone curlew and other wildlife. PDF, 718Kb. 13 February 2015

The Brecks Newsletter Winter 2014-2015

Our regional stone-curlew project newsletter. PDF, 289Kb. Issue number 7

Chalk Country Newsletter Winter 2014-2015

Issue 6 of the regional stone-curlew project newsletter. PDF, 721Kb. 5 March 2014

Chalk Country newsletter - Winter 2013-2014

News from the Brecks on our work with the stone curlew and other wildlife. PDF, 237Kb. 7 February 2014

The Brecks Newsletter - Winter 2013-2014

Information on the threats to this species in the UK and what we are doing to help it. PDF, 428Kb. 1 February 2013

Securing the future of the stone-curlew in the UK


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Andy Evans

Head of Nature Recovery
Coast on a stormy day

Nick Tomalin

Wessex Farmland Project Manager, RSPB
Coast on a stormy day

Tim Cowan

Brecks Project Manager, Breckland Stone Curlew
Tagged with: Country: England Country: UK Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Heathland Habitat: Marine and intertidal Species: Stone-curlew Project status: Closed Project types: Advocacy Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection