Letter: Save songbirds

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Save songbirds

Sir: Thank you for your timely articles on our disappearing wildlife, particularly the drastic decline in farmland birds. We have reached this desperate situation by neglecting to follow traditional farming practices.

All of us travelling through the countryside pass gapped and mutilated hedges that are mechanically flailed every year to within an inch of their lives. These hedges are cut so low and thin that they provide birds with no cover to protect them from predators and disturbance during nesting.

Cutting hedges every year prevents hawthorn, which flowers on year-old wood, from producing berries as food for birds in the winter. In contrast to the "tidy" hedges surrounding most farmland, the tall, thick hawthorn hedge outside my house teems with sparrows, buntings, blackbirds, robins and tits and is beautiful in flower in summer and fruit in winter.

The Government could easily extend the measures that already exist for the protection of trees to our surviving hedges.

If, in addition, we want to help reverse the loss of our ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, plovers and grey partridge, then the Government must resist the unlimited area access demanded by a small militant minority of Right to Roam campaigners. Most people do understand that in order to preserve our wildlife there must be restrictions to prevent disturbance and that unlimited access over the remaining habitat for a selfish few would leave nothing for the rest of us to enjoy in the future.

OLIVER FENTON

Dewsbury, West Yorkshir

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