Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Farmers 'not to blame for drop in number of Irish farm bird species'

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Birdwatch Ireland has moved to reassure farmers that they are not being blamed for the decline in farmland bird species.

Senior conservation officer Dr Alex Copland said agricultural policy would be crucial to ensuring that populations of farmland bird species were protected in Ireland.

There are serious concerns about the population decline of a number of bird species in Ireland, including the corncrake, breeding waders such as the curlew and lapwing, as well as the skylark, yellow hammer, kestrel and barn owl.

Both the curlew and lapwing are currently on the 'red list' for endangered bird species and are in danger of becoming extinct globally.

However, Dr Copland insisted that Birdwatch Ireland was not laying the blame for their decline at the door of farmers.

"We work with a lot of farmers and we have nothing but praise for them," he said.

The threat to these bird populations came from possible changes to agricultural policy, he maintained.

"We need policies that will encourage farmers to protect biodiversity, policies that will include schemes that will protect species but in a workable format that can be delivered in the farming sector," he said.

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Dr Copland added that he was concerned about continuing cuts to agri-environment schemes and reform of agricultural policy in Europe.

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