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Farming deal falls short of what nature needs for recovery

Last modified: 19 December 2013

Cirl bunting singing from branch

The cirl bunting has benefited from wildlife-friendly farming. However, many other species are in need of help

Image: Andy Hay

Thousands of people, including many farmers, have been expressing their concerns about the perilous state of farmland wildlife. 

Today’s funding announcement by Defra has fallen considerably short of what’s needed to recover populations of these threatened species, meaning that wildlife-friendly farming schemes are going to have work harder for wildlife as the pot available has shrunk from what was hoped.

Today's announcement by Owen Paterson - the Environment Secretary - offers some hope for the recovery for threatened species reliant on agriculture, but success will depend on targeting the funding towards well-designed schemes to help wildlife.

Commenting on today's announcement, Mike Clarke, the RSPB's chief executive, said: 'We have received thousands of expressions of support from the public calling for a countryside richer in wildlife. This is important to the public, including many wildlife-friendly farmers.

'Today Owen Paterson and Defra have planted some of the seeds needed for the recovery for threatened species of farmland wildlife, like the skylark, marsh fritillary butterfly and turtle dove. But, as any farmer will tell you, these few seeds will need a lot of nurturing to get the greatest yield. 

'While the deal falls short of what we wanted and what nature needs, we will continue to work with the large numbers of progressive farmers to help protect the farmed environment and prevent the ongoing decline of many threatened species.

'The proposals were watered down following considerable last-minute pressure placed on the Government by the National Farmers Union. The Government has made its own job of meeting its environmental commitments harder, and must re-assert its determination to ensure that a large proportion of this public money is directed towards public benefits: a healthy and vibrant countryside, rich in wildlife, to which we all have access.'

Since Saturday over 10,000 people have emailed David Cameron asking him not to cut funding for wildlife-friendly farming, following an RSPB campaign.

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