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Effectiveness of HLS for conserving farmland birds: 2014 re-survey - LM0441

Monitoring the response of farmland birds to English agri-environment schemes (AES) is important for three main reasons: because farmland birds are amongst our most threatened wildlife; because they are recognised as good overall indicators of the broad state of farmland biodiversity, and because they are the targeted outcome of AES policy at both national and international level.

Moreover, such monitoring also helps to inform improvements in scheme design and operational delivery, thereby increasing both scheme effectiveness and efficiency (and, hence, value for money).

During the summers of 2008 and 2011, NE funded RSPB to undertake farm-scale bird surveys of 99 sites in and outwith HLS to look for scheme-related differences in bird population changes through time. The current project involves a re-survey a slightly expanded sample of farms in 2014 to test for continued or additional bird population responses to HLS management. This includes assessing how BBS data might be used to provide an additional control stratum for the HLS farm versus control farm comparison.
Module 1 (FY 2013/14): Set-up re-survey to assess Impacts of Higher Level Environmental Stewardship (HLS) on farmland bird populations 2008-2014
1.1. To set-up HLS farm-scale fieldwork in summer 2014 in order to assess the ongoing impact of HLS agreements on local population growth of priority farmland birds.
1.2. Recruit additional sites to augment the control sample, boosting the number of sites that can be re-surveyed in future years.

Module 2 (FY 2014/15): Re-survey fieldwork to assess Impacts of HLS on farmland bird populations 2008-2014
2.1. Farm-scale re-survey in summer 2014 of sites within and outwith HLS visited in 2008 and/or 2011, plus additional control sites (for future re-survey) recruited in 2014.
2.2. Use the data to assess the ongoing impact of HLS agreements on local population growth of priority farmland birds.

Module 3 (to be completed by end of March 2015): Use of BBS data as an additional control stratum for AES monitoring
3.1. To extract a “non-HLS” control stratum from geographically appropriate BBS data from 2008-2014 to contribute to the attribution of population change effects in HLS farms to the scheme.
Project Documents
• TPS - Two Page Summary : Summary HLS birds 2008-14 with BBS control   (447k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2015

Cost: £164,481
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Trust For Ornithology (BTO)