RSPB fears for curlew and lapwing in Northern Ireland after "cuts"
The RSPB has concerns over the lapwing's future in Northern Ireland
The director of the RSPB in Northern Ireland has said he fears the curlew could be extinct in the country within a decade.
He also fears the lapwing will be in terminal decline if the Department of Agriculture does not address financial cuts to the countryside management scheme.
The scheme provides grants to landowners for adopting farming practices that enhance the countryside.
It is delivered by the department.
James Robinson, who is director of the RSPB in Northern Ireland, said the scheme helped birds such as the lapwing and curlew which were "red-listed or threatened species".
However, he said a continued reduction in funding could have serious consequences for their future.
"In recent years, farmers have used the grants to help wildlife and they are popular grants," he said.
He said he had estimated that since 2010, about £40m has been cut from Northern Ireland's countryside management scheme.
"This means that farmers who want to join the scheme cannot do so," he added.
Farmers and wildlife charities join forces to bring back the lapwing
The lapwing is an iconic bird of the wide open arable lands and the moors of southern England which has suffered a catastrophic decline in recent years.
Now a landscape-scale study across 120 sites in five different counties in lowland Britain – including Dorset – by leading research charity the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) in collaboration with the RSPB is under way to try to reverse the decline.
Scientists hope it will provide crucial information that will help improve Government schemes that pay farmers to put in special wildlife measures to help lapwings.
Latest figures show that lapwing, one of our most widely recognised waders and often called the 'farmer's friend', have fallen by about 50 % over the last 30 years.
Dr Andrew Hoodless, a wader scientist with the GWCT said: "Lapwings are very adaptable birds and because they nest on wet grassland, upland moors or arable land they should be doing quite well, but they are not. We know that the problem is not over-winter survival, but that the lapwings are simply not fledging sufficient chicks each year to maintain a stable population."