National Trust response to State of the UK Birds report

A new report has shown that restoring nature habitats can benefit struggling bird species.

The RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have today added 15 birds to their ‘red list’ of species currently under threat of extinction in the UK.

More than a quarter of UK birds face extinction or significant decline in their numbers. Puffins, nightingales and pied flycatchers have all been added to the red list, the charities’ State of the UK’s Birds report said.

But conservationists have pointed to good news for some species, with golden eagle numbers soaring by 15 per cent and over 1,000 breeding pairs of cirl buntings, a rare farmland bird.

Responding to the report David Bullock, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, said: “Many British birds are in trouble. But the report also shows is that where conservationists and farmers work together to restore habitats we can bring beautiful birds like the cirl bunting, manx shearwater and red kite back from the brink.”

The National Trust last month committed to creating 25,000 hectares of new ‘priority’ wildlife habitats across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than a third (100,000 hectares) of the land the National Trust currently cares for is protected in law for its natural or geological significance.

Rangers from the conservation charity have already worked alongside farmers and partner organisations to restore nature habitats for a range of rare species.

In the South West the Trust and its tenant farmers have been involved in an RSPB-led project to manage arable fields in a more traditional way. The work, which includes planting hedgerows and leaving barley stubble out over winter, has seen cirl bunting numbers rocket by 1,000 per cent. Over a tenth of the UK’s cirl buntings breed on National Trust farmland.

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