Wessex stone-curlew project
Stone-curlew populations are bouncing back after suffering massive declines since the 1930s.
- The aim of the project is to produce a self-sustaining population of stone-curlews in Wessex.
- This will be achieved by facilitating the provision of suitable habitat, providing informed habitat management advice, and by species protection, including intervention where necessary to improve chick survival
- The project helps farmers to provide suitable habitat through agri-environment schemes. If you are a farmer or land manager in the Wessex area and want to know what you can do to help the stone-curlew, contact us for free advice.
- 1930s - UK stone-curlew population begins to decline
- 1980s - population hits an all time low of less than 170 pairs, with as few as 30 pairs in Wessex
- 1982 - RSPB stone-curlew project officer employed
- 1985 - RSPB employs field teams to carry out nest protection
- 1988 - Set aside introduced and used to provide suitable breeding areas
- 1992 - Stone-curlew listed on UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) as a priority species, with set targets for recovery
- 1995 - RSPB and English Nature (now Natural England) join forces to begin a 'Species Recovery Project'
- 1998 - habitat creation funded by Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS)
- 2000 - UK population of 254 pairs exceeds target set by UK BAP for 200 pairs
- 2004 - RSPB sign a management agreement at Normanton Down within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, a half a square kilometre site with suitable habitat managed for stone-curlew
- 2005 - UK population of 308 pairs exceeds the UK BAP target for 2010 of 300 pairs.
- 2005 - RSPB purchase Manor Farm, a 300 ha farm with suitable habitat for stone-curlews
- 2006 - Higher Level Stewardship replaces CSS management options for stone-curlew
- 2006 - RSPB sign management agreement at Suddern Hill, a half a square kilometre site with suitable habitats managed for stone-curlews
- 2007 - SITA Trust funding begins, allowing work outside core areas to concentrate on range expansion
- 2008 - Set aside scrapped
- 2008 - UK population of 350 pairs meets UK BAP target for 2015.
- 2010 - Biffa Award funding begins, which works towards supporting landowners to continue land management with reduced RSPB involvement
- 2012 - Work becomes part of a UK wide LIFE+ funded project, which aims to build on the work already done towards developing a sustainable populations across the UK
- 2014 - Final HLS agreements
- 2016 - New agri-environmental schemes come into effect, now once again called Countryside Stewardship Scheme
These trials will test different management techniques designed to encourage nesting without the need for intensive monitoring. We hope these results will allow us to produce improved guidelines for plot management which will be used to advise Natural England on creating the new agri-environment schemes that will come into effect in 2016.
The goodwill and support from farmers and the MoD has been fundamental to the success of the project, and will be vital in creating a self-sustaining population of stone-curlew in the future.