Farmers learn how to profit from helping wildlife

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The Independent Online

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is advising farmers how to adopt traditional farming methods that are good for wildlife. On the Hebridean Isle of Islay, next door to the RSPB's Loch Gruinart nature reserve, Sunderland Farm is working to a management plan designed and monitored by the RSPB which will help ensure both the survival of its rare sheep and cattle breeds and the island's birds.

"The right type of farming is vital for the future of many species of wild birds," said Stuart Housden, RSPB director for Scotland, pointing out that on Islay birds such as the chough and the corn crake will be the main beneficiaries from the safer environment.

The charity stresses that profits for farmers are essential in the agri-environmental scheme. "We need profitable farming on Islay. We need farms which can produce traditional products that are wildlife friendly. The RSPB wants to work with farmers as farming affects vast amounts of our wildlife," said a spokesman from the Scotland office.

The chough, in particular, has suffered through modern farming, losing a food source from cow pats which, these days, harbour few bugs because of the widespread use of cattle wormers. Another victim is the corncrake, which has lost habitat and is killed by mower blades. At Sunderland Farm, run by Gavin Doyle, the mowing leaves a "wild" perimeter for the birds. Mr Doyle, meanwhile, is able to charge a premium on meat delivered UK-wide.

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