Ten species (corn bunting, grey partridge, lapwing, yellow wagtail, turtle dove, tree sparrow, linnet, yellowhammer, reed bunting and skylark) are of particular concern due to their populations showing the most severe declines, with six of these species also showing a marked reduction in their range.
The North Wessex Downs AONB is a hotspot for farmland birds, holding nationally important populations of all ten of these species.
The North Wessex Downs Farmland Bird Project provides free help and advice for farmers, their agents and advisors, to create and manage habitat for farmland birds using Environmental Stewardship.
Farmers are encouraged to include the Farmland Bird Package of options in Stewardship agreements, providing farmland birds with their three basic ecological requirements, the ‘Big 3’:
- Safe, in-field nesting habitat
- Insect-rich habitat, to feed chicks in summer
- Seed-rich habitat, for food over winter
Research has demonstrated that by providing these habitats in sufficient quantities and with the correct management, the trend in farmland bird declines can be reversed.
Environmental Stewardship enables farmers to provide habitat for farmland birds alongside their existing farming practices, whilst also benefiting a host of other farmland species.