THE latest State of the UK’s Birds report published on Monday reveals many of our most familiar countryside birds are undergoing sweeping changes with some experiencing ‘plummeting population declines’, compared with the 1990s.
Part of the report looks at the UK’s 107 most widespread and common breeding birds. Of these species, about a fifth have declined in the south east by more than a third since 1995, including turtle dove, willow tit, starling, cuckoo, lapwing, sparrow and wood warbler.
Many of these species are reliant on habitats maintained through farmland in the ‘wider countryside’ rather than on special sites, such as nature reserves.
The report comes just days before Environment Secretary Owen Paterson decides on the amount of funding for wildlife friendly farming. It’s this money, and the conditions that apply to it, that will have the biggest impact when it comes to supporting birds and other wildlife.
The RSPB is asking for the public support to show Mr Paterson the level of concern for the future of our wildlife and landscapes. There is an online poll and the results will be handed-in to farming Minister George Eustice on the 19 December.
RSPB South East Regional Director Chris Corrigan said: “The declines highlighted in this report are truly shocking. Never in all my years working in conservation has there been a moment like this.
“Owen Paterson holds the future of the countryside in his hands. We need him to use our tax money to support our wildlife and landscapes. A show of public support now will do more for our vanishing birds and other threatened wildlife than all the staff and volunteers the RSPB can muster could achieve with a decade of effort. These declines reflect changes in our landscape which funding can address. It’s crucial people get behind this poll”.
RSPB conservation scientist Dr Mark Eaton said: “Many of these birds aren’t specialist and don’t occur in remote locations. They are ones you could see while walking the dog or enjoying a family picnic. “
The poll can be found online at http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/votefornature.