ENVIRONMENT

Crisis in European farmlands

But during the last quarter of a century, population of many European farmland birds have collapsed at a rapid rate.

Over the past 30 years, Britain’s rural sparrow population has declined by 60 percent. Researches have questioned intensive and mechanized farmland practices for this extinction.

European farmlands supports innumerable amount of birds and it has major concerns about conserving the species. But during the last quarter of a century, population of many European farmland birds have collapsed at a rapid rate. In some cases the birds and their habitats have been destroyed in a rapid rate. Experts believe this is happening because of unmatched changes that is happening while trying to manage farmlands.  Farmers have increased the use of mechanized tools and they have become highly reliant upon high yield crops. Because of this, the use of fungicides, fertilizer has been increased and as a result hay meadows have been replaced with silage grass, wetlands have been drained, hedges have been lost and habitat diversity has declined while the field size is increasing.

London- based Royal Society did a research for the Protection of Birds and they found out that the use of fungicides have been a major cause for massive decline of birds. This has resulted in sowing seeds during the autumn season. Farmland birds have been feeding on the stubble left between the summer harvest and spring planting out of desperation. This new trend of harvesting crops of resulted in autumn has resulted in their food source being cut off and has led to starvation among large number of birds.

Another problem created by this is plantation during the autumn has been affecting the population of birds as taller and denser crops are grown during this season. Birds do not prefer nesting in taller and denser crops. Thus, since the crops are denser and taller in autumn as compared to spring birds tend to build their nests adjacent to a tramline. As tramlines are adjacent to a tramline, the nests become more vulnerable to predators. A research was being conducted looking at the better changes of how nesting is affected on different seasons. They found out that a pair skylarks nesting in spring- sown cereals are able to produce three times more chicks than the skylarks nesting in autumn- sown cereals.

This downfall of European farmland bird population has resulted in many countries taking a number of remedial measures to monitor and control the situation and find remedial measures to solve it. The British government is planning to start an environmental scheme for farmlands which aims to compensate farmers for making changes to benefit the wildlife. These changes can result in leaving field margins fallow or delay planting until it is spring. Conservationists are positive that this will eventually help resolve the problem. According to Darren Moorcroft, an agricultural officer of England said, ”  There’s a research base that tells us what needs to be done. Farmers are keen to do the work if the incentives are there, and there’s the political will to do so.”

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