Game shoots can help farmers to establish and manage conservation areas under new Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) announced by Defra today (10th June). The EFAs are designed to encourage more land to be sympathetically managed for wildlife.
European regulations under the Common Agricultural Policy require 5% of arable land on farms of more than 15 hectares to be devoted to EFAs. Defra has outlined five options for farmers to use to meet the EFA requirements in England. They are: land lying fallow, buffer strips, catch and cover crops, nitrogen fixing crops and hedges.
Paul Williamson, rural land development manager for the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), said: “Shoots have a vested interest in creating and managing good quality habitat which supports game birds and other wildlife. Each of the five EFA measures has interest for land managed for shooting.”
“In particular, shoots plant and manage some 90,000 hectares of cover crops across the UK which offer a valuable source of food and shelter for a wide variety of species throughout the year. There are some 48,000 hectares of hedgerows on land managed for shooting. Maintaining them in good condition for partridge and pheasant has added benefits for other species.”
“Around 46,000 hectares of buffer strips of grassland are influenced by shoot management. Another 37,000 hectares are designated as conservation headlands, where insecticides and herbicides are not used. These offer birds a variety of insects and cover at vital times of the year.”
“Shoots and farmers work hand-in-hand and the shoots can offer farmers much-needed practical effort to manage land for wildlife and to help the farmers meet the requirements of the new greening measures.”
For more information about shooting’s role in conservation, click here.