SNP good for great-spotted woodpeckers and chiffchaffs? Scottish Government’s Rural Development Programme uses EU money effectively to increase woodland and farmland bird numbers


©2016 John King

According to Scottish Natural Heritage, this week:

‘Scotland’s woodland and farmland bird numbers have increased over the past two decades, but during this time, upland birds have faced decline. The latest results reveal varied trends for Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds, with woodland birds increasing by 67% between 1994 and 2016, farmland birds increasing by 13%, but upland birds decreasing by 16%.  Woodland specialists, such as great-spotted woodpecker and chiffchaff, have shown the largest increases…..For farmland species, goldfinches have continued to increase and are now a common sight in most gardens.

I hope it’s not too flippant to suggest blame for the decline in upland birds might be laid at the mansion doors of Tory landowners who would prefer biodiversity there, was reduced to just one species, the grouse, so that their massive flocks are easy targets for even the most drunken of their clients.

I’m basing my headline claim on parts of the Annual implementation report

United Kingdom, Rural Development Programme (Regional) -Scotland which includes details of the Scottish Government’s agencies’ planning for biodiversity in forest, farmland and upland areas. The EU funds the programme.

For the four targets:

T8: percentage of forest/other wooded area under management contracts supporting

biodiversity (focus area 4A)

T12: percentage of agricultural land under management contracts

to improve soil management and/or prevent soil erosion (focus area 4C)

T10: percentage of agricultural land under management contracts to improve water management (focus area 4B)

T9: percentage of agricultural land under management contracts supporting biodiversity

and/or landscapes (focus area 4A)

£222 527 672 of public expenditure was spent in 2014-2016 (Page 12). I appreciate that not all of this was specifically bird-targeted, but they are included in the concept of biodiversity and some actions were specific.  See:

‘Scotland has had an AEC [Agri-Environment and Climate Scheme] scheme since the early 1990s and has developed a suite of interventions that benefit Scotland’s biodiversity. The evaluators were told that evidence from previous programmes has demonstrated the benefits of AEC measures in supporting biodiversity. Of the “original” AEC schemes, the creation of Wild Bird Seed is considered to be one of the most beneficial actions, as it creates a food source for vulnerable bird species during winter in mixed agricultural systems throughout Scotland’ (page 84)

Footnote: I hope to be able to report, soon, on the benefits of other parties for tits.


4 thoughts on “SNP good for great-spotted woodpeckers and chiffchaffs? Scottish Government’s Rural Development Programme uses EU money effectively to increase woodland and farmland bird numbers

  1. Ludo Thierry March 1, 2018 / 6:38 pm

    That is very good news about the woodland and farmland bird numbers and the success story that is Scotland’s Agri-Environment and Climate Scheme. There remains, however, much to be done – and it will be a whole lot easier with an Indy Scotland remaining within the EU. An important element of the agricultural biodiversity should be the Common Scottish Tennant Farmer. I see from today’s National that a certain Bucchleuch is trying his darn’dest to ‘cull’ this vital indigenous species. See below:

    Farmers furious with Buccleuch Estates over tenant evictions

    THE couple at the centre of the growing row over tenant farmers in the Borders being evicted to make way for grant-aided forests have spoken of their ordeal at a public meeting.
    Alison and David Telfer of Cleuchfoot farm near Langholm told the audience of more than 200 people in the Borders town of their dismay at the way they claim they have been treated by Buccleuch Estates.

    Now I’m not a religious sort of guy. It seems, however, that Buccleuch views himself in this light. It has been widely reported that he is to be Queenie’s ‘representative’ at this years General Assembly. He might recall a verse from the King James’ Bible. It runs along the lines ‘For what shall it profiteth a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ Maybe, as he prepares himself for his General Assembly duties Buccleuch might take a few moments to reflect on his actions?

    Liked by 2 people

    • BSA March 1, 2018 / 8:23 pm

      The report is meaningless without detail, especially the farmland bird part and, up to now, the common Scottish farmer has been the biggest threat to biodiversity, or rather the agricultural policies and supports he works within have been.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ludo Thierry March 2, 2018 / 8:42 pm

    Quick update on the endangered Common Scottish Tenant Farmer and the activities of Buccleuch and his minions. The Scottish Farmer carries info re. the involvement of the Land Commission and the Tenant Farming Commissioner. Once upon a time the ‘little people’ had no redress and just had to shut up and get on. The recent legislation is a modest start but there seems to be some positive actions already coming through: see below:

    1st March
    Buccleuch calls in tenant farming watchdog
    Gordon Davidson News & Online Editor

    FACED WITH allegations of bullying and intimidation of agricultural tenants, aired at a public meeting in Langholm this week, Buccleuch estate has called in the Scottish Tenant Farming Commissioner to examine its negotiations over farm leases.
    The meeting had been held to discuss Buccleuch’s forestry proposals on the Eskdale and Liddesdale Estate, but became a flashpoint for tensions between the estate and its tenants.

    At the meeting, the Duke of Buccleuch invited all tenants on the estate to face to face meetings on March 19 to discuss any concerns.

    The Scottish Land Commission has welcomed the ‘open approach’ adopted by Buccleuch Estates.
    SLC chair Andrew Thin, said: “We welcome the decision by Buccleuch Estates to hold a public meeting setting out more information about their plans and to respond to the feedback and views received. The issues and context will vary widely across Scotland but we encourage all land owners to consider a similarly proactive approach to engage people in future plans and address issues where they arise.

    The Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh said: “The primary purpose of the Tenant Farming Commissioner is to promote good relations between landlords and tenants in the agricultural holdings sector.
    “The Chief Executive of Buccleuch Estates has asked me to review how Buccleuch Estates staff have acted when dealing with some recent end of tenancy situations. I will look into these cases to consider whether they were handled in accordance with good practice and relevant published codes and guides. I am assured that I will have full access to estate staff and records.

    These initial steps to bring Scottish land-holding practices into the modern era simply would never NEVER have seen the light of day without the SNP Scottish Govt pushing this stuff on.

    Liked by 1 person

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