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Action Plan:  Species
Birds
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

UK Lead Organisation:
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

County Lead Organisation:
West Midland Bird Club
 
 
Objectives
  • In the short term, to halt the decline in breeding numbers on lowland farmland and other habitats where found to be declining.
  • In the medium term, to enhance the breeding population of skylark in all habitats in which the species occurs.

Policy
  • Seek to consider the requirements of the skylark when establishing and reviewing agri-environment schemes. (DEFRA) 
  • Lobby for increased funding to support organic and mixed farm systems. (Nature Conservation Organisations)
  • Lobby for changes in agri-environment schemes for the retention of stubble fields for as long as possible over winter, to provide a source of seeds. (Nature Conservation Organisations)
  • Ensure any examples of sites containing populations of this species and that meet the required criteria are given SBI status. (SBI Grading Committee)
  • Seek to incorporate beneficial farmland bird management practices into Staffordshire County Council farms estate tenancy agreements. (County Farm Estates)
  • Lobby for development of a pilot Dairy Stewardship Scheme, to deliver benefits for this species and other farmland wildlife into intensive dairy areas. (Nature Conservation Organisations)
 
Protection
  • The skylark is protected under the EC Birds Directive and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
  • Skylark has been listed as a costed, key species in the UK Steering Group Report.
 
Management, Monitoring, Research and Survey
  • The DEFRA Countryside Stewardship Scheme provides grant aid to farmers to encourage environmentally sensitive management and from 2002, this scheme will include new arable options which will benefit this species.  A range of options under this scheme has the potential to provide nest sites and increase food supplies for skylarks. DEFRA and FWAG actively promote this scheme throughout the county.
  • Encourage sympathetic management of rotational set aside, with regard to reducing the harmful effects of cutting and wide-spectrum pesticide use. (RSPB)
  • Promote an increase in both the diversity of arable crops sown and the area under spring cereals, especially barley. (RSPB, NFU)
  • Encourage the establishment of grass margins, beetle banks and ley grassland as both nesting sites and insect rich feeding areas. (GCT, RSPB)
  • Seek to target the use of the new arable options within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to benefit skylark. (DEFRA, FWAG, RSPB)
  • Promote full use of the new multi-annual set aside option to deliver 5 year management plans to benefit farmland birds including skylark. (RSPB, DEFRA, FWAG)
  • Seek to encourage a more targeted and cautious use of pesticides on farmland, as opposed to prophylactic treatment of crops. (DEFRA)
  • Encourage the establishment demonstration farms to highlight beneficial management practices for skylark. (RSPB, SWT)
  • Promote volunteer participation in national monitoring schemes currently operating in the county i.e. Breeding Bird Survey. (BTO, WMBC, RSPB)
  
Advisory
  • Increase species awareness for the public and landowners through education, promotion and events. (SBAP Partnership)
 

 
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