To save British wildlife we need to understand and appreciate those who own and manage the land, says Teresa Dent, chief executive of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.
6 WAYS GAMEBIRD MANAGEMENT HAS INFLUENCED WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
- Game biologists were the first to recognise the detrimental indirect effects of herbicides on farmland bird populations.
- Moors managed for grouse typically have five times as many golden plover and lapwings as unmanaged moors and about twice as many curlews.
- Curlews are about 18 times more abundant in the North Pennines Special Protection Areas, managed for grouse-shooting, than they are in the Berwyn Special Protection Areas, a large part of which is managed as a bird reserve.
- Managing woods for pheasant-shooting results in higher numbers of songbirds and woodland butterflies and produces richer ground flora than woodland that has been neglected or managed solely for timber.
- Thousands of hectares of game crops and thousands of tonnes of grain put out for pheasants and partridges help many songbirds overwinter. Winter bird counts showed that there were often up to 100 times more birds in game crops than in nearby arable crops.
- On our GWCT Allerton Project farm, a combined regime of farming, conservation and game management over a 10-year period saw brown hares increase 10-fold, overall songbird numbers more than double and autumn numbers of wild pheasants increase from fewer than 150 to more than 600.
CASE STUDY: THE PEPPERING PARTRIDGE PROJECT
Policy makers, government officials, conservationists, journalists and farmers are all beating a path to an exceptional shooting estate on the South Downs in Sussex to witness a remarkable grey partridge recovery project that is restoring wildlife to levels reminiscent of an era long before the intensification of agriculture. On the Duke of Norfolk’s Peppering Partridge Project, the landscape is overflowing or bursting with birds.
Lapwings, skylarks, corn buntings, linnets, red kites, buzzards and kestrels all vie for attention as they swoop and swirl but, of course, the king of all this and the driving force behind this extraordinary wildlife revival is the wild grey partridge. This is a shining example of enlightened self-interest. At the start of the project in 2003 there were just three grey partridges: one pair and a single male. Last spring there were 292 pairs and, following a good summer, autumn counts revealed an impressive 2,226 greys. Now that the estate has a sustainable population, the dream of shooting wild grey partridges has become a reality and in the winter of 2013/14 a bag of 748 wild grey partridges was achieved.