Saturday, 19 May 2012

Nature rewards farmers who help rare birds

Farmers who are working to help threatened birds on their land are also more likely to have healthy populations of bugs, butterflies, bumblebees and bats, new scientific research based in the South West has revealed.
In two studies, RSPB scientists discovered that all sorts of insects and small mammals were benefiting "by accident" from measures to protect two of the UK's rarest farmland birds – cirl buntings and stone curlews.
Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: "It is great to see that farmers who are working hard to help birds are also providing habitats for many other plants, bees and bugs. We know that these measures are vital if we are to restore lost populations of threatened birds – but now we have confirmation that they are providing real benefits for a range of other beautiful and fascinating species as well.
Scientists compared the diversity and abundance of wildlife with similar farmland which was not involved in bird conservation schemes. Where pastureland had been managed for cirl buntings in Devon, there were five times as many butterflies – and other measures on the same land helped double the number of ground beetles.
And arable land on Salisbury Plain with fallow plots for nesting stone curlews was found to have almost twice as many wild plant species, five times as many butterflies and bumblebees and four times the number of hares as similar land without the plots.

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