Farmland is an important wildlife habitat in Europe. It supports many species including birds, plants, insects and mammals. Policymakers, advisers, conservationists and farmers are keen to farm in a way that protects this biodiversity. This one year RELU project has compiled scientific knowledge about how to protect and enhance farmland biodiversity. We are presenting the results in a format that is easy for policymakers and practitioners to use. The work was led by Professor William Sutherland and Dr Lynn Dicks. The project ended in January 2012, and publications are now being prepared.
Engaging with policy and practice
To make evidence relevant for policy and practice, it is best to start by asking policymakers and practitioners what they want to know. We worked with 57 people directly involved in biodiversity conservation in UK agriculture. They included conservation-oriented farmers, advisers, conservationists and national and local policymakers.
These people helped us build a list of possible interventions to benefit wildlife on farmland. They also answered questions about how important each intervention is and how much they knew about it. We are preparing these results for publication.
We identified 118 possible interventions for wildlife conservation on northern and western European farmland. They include all the specific agri-environment options related to wildlife, general interventions such as increasing the proportion of semi-natural habitat in the landscape, and specific interventions such as corn bunting plots designed by conservationists or ecologists but not yet widely implemented.
Making conservation more effective through access to scientific knowledge
We are building a free online resource that summarises evidence for the effects of farmland conservation interventions. It is based on 743 different studies or publications, identified by systematic review. People delivering conservation on farms, whether they are land managers, conservationists, farmers, or policymakers, can now see the evidence we have found, compiled in plain English.
The synopsis will also be available as a book in the Conservation Evidence Synopses series:
Dicks, L. V., Danhardt, J., James, K., Jönsson, A., Randall, N., Showler, D. A., Smith, R. K., Turpie, S., Williams, D. & Sutherland, W. J. (in prep) Farmland conservation: evidence for the effects of interventions in northern Europe. Pelagic Publishing.
Using the evidence to inform policy and practice
We have quantified the level of existing evidence for each intervention. Now we can pick out interventions where there is good knowledge of effectiveness, and interventions that lack empirical evidence to support them.
Watch this space for our analysis of how the proposed reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy stack up against the empirical evidence we collected.
For more information about this project, contact Dr Lynn Dicks (email@example.com) , telephone 01223 761362.
Data from this project, including a draft version of the full synopsis, are available from the Economic and Social Data Service
This is a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the RELU (Rural Environment and Land Use) initiative and is a partnership between the following organisations: