Fenland - the Fens focus area

Populations of farmland birds across the UK have shown a dramatic decline over recent decades.

Turtle dove Streptopelia turtur, adult perched in tree top, Fowlmere RSPB reserve,


Six species (corn bunting, turtle dove, grey partridge, lapwing, yellow wagtail and tree sparrow) have shown particularly severe declines and a marked reduction in their range.
Research has demonstrated that by providing nesting habitat, winter food and insect resources in sufficient quantities and with the correct management, the trend in declines can be reversed.
The Fens as a hotspot for farmland birds is one of only a handful of places in England where these six species are still recorded together.
Within the Fens Focus Area, we provide free help and advice for farmers, their agents and advisors to create and manage habitat for farmland birds and other wildlife using Environmental Stewardship.  
Farmers are encouraged to adopt nature-friendly farming practices as part of a commercial farm business, benefiting a host of farmland species, while continuing to produce the high arable yields associated with the area.


  • The project is based at our Ouse Washes nature reserve in the heart of the Fens, and is working with farmers in Cambridgeshire as well as parts of Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
  • The project aims to help farmers deliver valuable wildlife habitats through high quality Environmental Stewardship agreements.
  • It also seeks to raise awareness in the farming community of farm wildlife, its needs and the challenges it currently faces.

Planned Work

We offer free one-to-one advisory visits to help farmers decide the best way to manage their land with wildlife in mind.
Free surveys are available for farms in core areas, to identify the presence of important target species and provide support for Environmental Stewardship applications. 
Free help with the Environmental Stewardship application process ensures delivery of high-quality agreements containing a package of options which benefit farmland birds and other wildlife. 
A series of free events for farmers are providing information on the needs of farm wildlife and how best to meet them under current Environmental Stewardship schemes.
Please contact the project officer to find out more about these free services.


The project was launched in March 2009, and since then:
  • Advisory visits have been given on over 370 square kilometres of farmland.
  • Around 700 farmers have attended project events and many more have connected with us through shows and word of mouth.
  • The project officer has helped farmers in the Fens put over 170 square kilometres of land into Stewardship schemes.
  • We have worked with 17 farmers to create the Thorney Farmland Bird Friendly Zone, an area of farmland covering 40 square kilometres, in which the farmers have come together to manage their land to help wildlife.


  • Natural England Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Action Fund 2008-2011


Coast on a stormy day

Niki Williamson

Senior Conservation Officer, RSPB

Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Wetland Species: Corn bunting Species: Grey partridge Species: Lapwing Species: Tree sparrow Species: Turtle dove Species: Yellow wagtail Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection