Northeast England farmland bird initiative (FBI)

Now complete, the Farmland Bird Initiative was a partnership project helping farmland birds in England's North East region. It delivered conservation action for a number of declining species with specialist advice to farmers, training for professional advisers and public awareness.

Skylark Alauda arvensis, at the grassy edge of a small field. Cornwall


We need to raise awareness and deliver action for declining bird species on key farmland sites across Northeast England.


  • To provide specialist advice/training for advisors and farmers.
  • To work directly with Natural England to target management for farmland birds via agri-environment schemes.
  • To act as an expert consultee and offer advice and guidance on individual HLS applications with farmland bird interest.
  • To promote farmland bird conservation in the region.

Key Dates

  • Eight on-farm events have been held for farmers to offer advice on helping birds and agri-environment schemes. 138 farmers have attended these events.
  • Eleven events have been held for training professional advisors, with 147 attending.
  • Eleven public events have been held to highlight the important role farmers play in helping declining bird species on their land. These events were attended by 151 members of the public.


  • Natural England
  • RSPB
  • Northumberland National Park Authority
  • Northumberland Coast AONB
  • North Pennines AONB


Planned Work

North East corn bunting initiative

The FBI has worked closely with Natural England and local farmers to carry out some targeted HLS management on the last remaining corn bunting sites across the region. As a result, we have successfully delivered a range of tailored options for corn bunting across 23 sites, and corn bunting is now regarded as a flagship species with the North East Natural England teams.
As a follow on from this work, a sample of 10 of these HLS sites are now being monitored to see how corn buntings respond to the HLS options put in place. This monitoring was negotiated by FBI and funded by Natural England’s HLS management plan payments.

Skylark plots

The FBI has strongly encouraged the uptake of skylark plots as an option in the North East, and are expected as part of any arable farmland bird HLS in winter wheat dominated areas.
In the North East there are 421 skylark plots in total, 328 of these (more than 75 per cent) have been delivered by the FBI’s negotiations with farmers over the last two years.


  • Advice offered across 81 holdings, covering 26 square kilometres of land.
  • 54 Live HLS agreements delivered.
  • A further 16 HLS agreements currently at the application stage with NE.
  • Six non-HLS holdings advised on (either still in CSS or ELS only).


The partners funding this project are:

  • Natural England
  • RSPB
  • Northumberland National Park Authority
  • Northumberland Coast AONB  
  • North Pennines AONB


Coast on a stormy day

Nick Adams

Area Conservation Manager, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: England Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Habitat: Upland Habitat: Wetland Project status: Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Site protection