Natural England offers closer partnership with wildfowlers

IMG_1813NATURAL ENGLAND has pledged to work even closer with wildfowling clubs to simplify and improve the process of obtaining consents on designated sites.

Sue Beale, NE’s senior specialist – protected sites, addressed the BASC National Wildfowling Conference at the weekend and said: “Natural England is continuing to work with BASC, seeking to improve our understanding of wildfowling and to this end we are encouraging our staff to go out on to the marsh with wildfowlers.

“The consenting process becomes easier and more straightforward when there is an existing relationship and trust between NE and wildfowling clubs.

“We are working closely with Dennise Shepherd from the BASC wildfowling team on organising visits by NE officers to local marshes and would like to hear from more clubs, especially if they are undertaking conservation projects.”

Sue Beale also welcomed the BASC-sponsored research project into wildlife disturbance in Poole Harbour. She said: “This is exactly the kind of study we need to provide evidence when considering consent applications.”

Natural England and BASC last year signed an historic partnership agreement which recognises the important contribution that people who shoot make to the nature and landscape conservation of the English countryside.

Sue and other NE staff have been on a number of visits to land managed by BASC-affiliated wildfowling clubs over the past two years.

Tim Russell, BASC’s director of conservation, welcomed the opportunity to build on the relationship with NE and said: “I am delighted that Natural England staff are actively trying to find out more about the realities of wildfowling.

“Where there is better understanding about a site and what is happening, a constructive dialogue is more likely. If we can also improve the evidence around the effects of disturbance through our PhD study in Poole Harbour, then this will help simplify and improve the consenting process even more.”

The Conference also featured presentations from James Pearce-Higgins, of the British Trust for Ornithology, on the impact of climate change on waterfowl and from Stephen Thompson, of Walney Island Wildfowling Association, on how wildfowlers in Morecambe Bay have been working with other local stakeholders on conservation initiatives.

The 2016 BASC Wildfowling Conference, which took place at Sutton Coldfield, was attended by 87 delegates representing wildfowling clubs across the UK.

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