over decline in UK bird and bee numbers
The populations of popular farmland birds have plummeted
to their lowest ever figures in Britain while at the
same time the number
of bumble bees is also in decline.
There has been a staggering 85 per cent decline in certain
species of farmland birds in the UK and the number of bees
by a third. Conservationists are not only concerned, but
also baffled about what is causing the sharp falls.
A recent survey conducted by the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs has revealed that there has been a dramatic decline
in the number of farmland birds such as the grey partridge, turtle
dove and linnet. In certain areas, other species of popular birds
are becoming extinct.
Although there has been a steady decline in the number of birds
since farming with intensive chemicals was first introduced in
the 1960s, this decade had seen a six year halt to the deteriorating
numbers. Experts are puzzled that populations have again diminished
over the last three years despite the fact that European subsidies
are supposed to pay farmers to introduce wildlife-friendly practices.
to Graham Madge, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the
of Birds, a decline of almost 85 per cent
in the local extinction of some breeds, including the yellow
wagtail in Devon and the corn bunting in Northern Ireland. “In some
places certain species are becoming scarce, if not extinct, because
the smaller populations left are burning out,” he said.
however, has disparaged the statistics saying that the study
ignored the species of farmland
birds that were increasing in numbers.
“Farmland birds, including the swallow, magpie, collared
dove and chaffinch have all increased in population over 30 years,” remarked
the union’s vice president Paul Temple.
The Farmers’ Union
also suggested it was too early to see the benefits of recent
improvements in management and that
decrease of birds that nest on the ground is more likely due
to an increase in predators.
have criticised the government for cutting the budgets of key
like Natural England, which
to protect threatened species, including farmland birds. Wildlife
Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies admitted that “renewed action” was
needed to prevent further demise.
of farmland birds is not the only cause for worry. The population
throughout Europe and in particular
Britain is also falling rapidly. According to the British Beekeepers
between 2007 and 2008 the number of bees in the UK has dropped
by 30 per cent. Experts and farmers are confused about the
reasons behind the falling numbers and are worried about the
the world’s agriculture and food supply. British beekeepers
have called upon the government for financial assistance for
research into the problem.
Several theories on the sudden demise of bees have been suggested,
including climate change, genetically modified crops, pesticides
and modern farming techniques.