Official figures show a 9% decline between 2010-15 in birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland
Thursday 23 November 2017 16.39 GMTLast modified on Monday 27 November 2017 11.56 GMT
Birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland have seen numbers decline by almost a tenth in five years, official figures show.
Farmland bird populations have declined by 56% since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows.
While the majority of the decline happened in between the late 1970s and 1980s as farming practices changed rapidly, there was a 9% decline between 2010 and 2015, the statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show.
The latest figures have prompted renewed calls for an overhaul of farming as the UK leaves the EU and its system of agricultural subsidies, to support wildlife and farming.
The data showed some “specialist” species, those restricted to or highly dependent on farmland habitats, have seen precipitous falls.
Corn buntings, grey partridge, turtle doves and tree sparrows have all suffered declines of more than 90% since 1970, though others such as stock doves and goldfinches saw populations double.
For turtle doves in particular, dramatic falls continue, with numbers down 71% between 2010 and 2015.