Campaign to save wild birds in Ribble Valley takes flight

Forest of Bowlanf lapwing (s)
Forest of Bowlanf lapwing (s)

A campaign has been launched to halt the major decline of wild birds in the Ribble Valley.

The Forest of Bowland’s nationally important populations of breeding lapwings, curlews, redshank, snipe and oyster catchers are in decline at a local and national level.

According to the the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds lapwing numbers have declined by a staggering 80% since the 1960s and breeding curlews have dropped by 45% between 1995 and 2011 according to the UK Breeding Bird Survey.

The decline is due to many factors, including changes in farm practices with moves towards more intensive production. Many waders breed in the rough unimproved pastures and moorland allotments that were once commonplace in the fringes of the uplands and others feed and breed in the wet grassland that covered river flood plains.

In a bid to halt the decline the Ribble Rivers Trust is now working with farmers in the Ribble Valley to try and stop the decline.

Chipping Moss was the setting for a guided walk on when the River Loud Farmers’ Group were invited to look at the wetland habitat works designed to improve habitat for breeding wading birds. They were guided around the site by Gavin Thomas from the RSPB.

Sarah Bolton, Ribble Rivers Trust Facilitator, said “The rewetting works and rush control at the Chipping Moss site have reversed the declining trend. Group members were keen to hear what could be done on their own farms to improve the habitat for wading birds.”

Opportunities for wetland creation, from wader scrapes to larger scale ponds, are available as part of the Ribble Trust’s new Heritage Lottery funded project, Ribble Life Together. The group’s meetings and training promote co-operation amongst landowners and farmers at a landscape scale and are being funded by Natural England’s Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Scheme. The Ribble Rivers Trust aims to protect and restore the rivers, streams and watercourses within the Ribble catchment and to raise public awareness of the value of local rivers and streams.

l A petition launched by Dr Mark Avery to ban grouse shooting has gathered over 46,000 signatures in just over three months. Supporters can sign it at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003. It is supported by Chris Packham, Bill Oddie, and The League Against Cruel Sports. Dr Brian May has also given his support.