Farming and Yorkshire wildlife talk
This evening’s presentation was by Chris Tomson, RSPB Conservation Advisor, whose job is to encourage farmers and landowners across the eastern part of Yorkshire, particularly in the Wolds, to farm for nature.
With 75 % of the British countryside being farmland, and the obvious need for this land to produce food and energy in a cost-effective way so that domestic consumers perceive they are getting value for the 12 % of their income that they spend on food, every square centimetre of land is important. Chris works to encourage the use of marginal areas, roadside verges and even whole fields for birds and other wildlife.
He listed the RSPB’s ten birds of greatest conservation concern and saluted the work of the volunteer monitors. He made the point that so much can be achieved by sowing special wild bird seed to sustain birds through the ‘hungry gap’ after field crops are exhausted. Some farmers working with the RSPB have built bird tables in their fields for this purpose. It was interesting to see a large area of very pretty yellow flowers, which turned out to be nyjer which had grown from the seeds in the mix.
Pollinators are another current focus of conservation action, and these flower-rich fields are also of huge benefit to them. As well as helping humans by ensuring the future of our crops, they also help to keep young birds alive. The value of these flowery fields in purely visual terms should also not be underestimated.
Chris flagged up the looming risk to our wildlife protection schemes following the Brexit decision, as half of the funding accessible for conservation purposes currently comes from Europe.
The next meeting is on 13 December, when Tim Melling will speak about the wildlife of Scilly.