Naturalist Chris Packham has told farmers they must make their farms “wildlife havens” in order to remedy what he calls “big trouble” for the UK’s wildlife landscape.
The BBC Springwatch presenter said the role of British farmers in the conservation of wildlife was appreciated, adding that “nature reserves are not enough” to tackle the conservation issues faced by the UK.
Farm bird numbers have dropped by over a half while farmland butterflies have seen a fall of over 30% since 1990.
Martin Lines, chairman of Nature Friendly Farming Network supported Packham’s calls, warning that farmers must “recognise a shift to nature friendly farming” or they will risk making all work done so far “irrelevant”.
The pair spoke at Papley Grove farm as Packham completed a 10-day survey recording all forms of wildlife across 50 UK sites, aiming to create a measure of the rise and fall of different species.
Brian Finnerty, a spokesman for the East Anglian branch of the NFU reassured the pair his region was already considering wildlife concerns: “We would welcome the opportunity to show him [Mr Packham] the steps farmers are already taking on farms across East Anglia, alongside producing quality food.
“These include creating grass margins around fields, placing buffer strips next to watercourses, planting pollen and nectar mixes for bees and putting skylark plots within arable crops.
“But we must ensure we retain a profitable and productive farming sector.”