Irish agriculture and farmland birds, research to date and future priorities
27T11:23:35Z June 2013
Of the total land area of Ireland, 62% is devoted to agricultural production, thus highlighting the importance of this land use to biodiversity. European farmland birds have experienced rapid decline in the last thirty years. This is emphasised by the fact that lowland farmland provides breeding or wintering habitat to over 120 bird species of European Conservation Concern and this constitutes the largest number supported by any habitat. Of the18 species of birds that are of high conservation concern in Ireland, 13 are associated with agricultural habitats. Extensive research has been carried out in the UK and Europe to establish the cause and how to reverse the decline in farmland birds. A limited amount of work has been carried out in Ireland; however more work is required as it cannot be assumed that findings relating to the farmland bird ecology in the UK and Europe will apply in the Irish situation. It is apparent that extensification of agriculture through the vehicle of agri-environmental schemes is the method of choice to reverse the declines in bird diversity in farmland both in Europe and Ireland. It is the responsibility of policy, conservation and agricultural production agencies to embrace these schemes in order to optimise production and reverse the declines in Irish farmland birds.
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