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Massive boost for Yorkshire's farmland birds

[Monday 05 February 2007]

FARMERS in parts of North Yorkshire are set to join their colleagues across the East Riding and take a share of more than £1.5m of grants secured under an initiative aimed at increasing numbers of farmland birds.

The money comes from the Government's Environmental Stewardship Schemes and is distributed as part of the initiative run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - an organisation that believes in working with farmers and land owners to improve bird habitats across our region.

we have been able to help farmers secure much-needed income to help the long-term future of some of our favourite farmland birds

Simon Tonkin - RSPB

The farms have been working with Simon Tonkin, RSPB Volunteer and Farmer Alliance Plus project officer, to create habitats that will benefit birds such as corn buntings and tree sparrows and to apply for Government-funded grants to pay for the work.

Under agri-environment schemes such as the Entry Level and Higher Level Schemes, they have been awarded grants averaging nearly £31,000 per farm. Nearly 7,500 hectares of land will be managed for wildlife under the scheme.

Simon said: "It's fantastic that in just one year, we have been able to help farmers secure much-needed income to help the long-term future of some of our favourite farmland birds.

"Historically the areas we are working in have had thriving populations of these birds but in recent years a combination of factors, including agricultural intensification, have seen their numbers decline dramatically.

"By sourcing funding to restore and create prime habitats, we can help turn round the fortunes of birds which are so much a part of our countryside."

Simon and his team of volunteers based at Bishop Burton College near Beverley provide practical advice to farmers on how they can manage their land to benefit birds; they also carry out bird surveys on the farms, producing maps that pinpoint where species of conservation concern can be found.

Already over 150 farms are involved in the project. Farmers in the East Riding and North Yorkshire who would like to find out more about the project or conservation for farmland birds should contact Simon on 01964 552205.

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