I recently attended the launch of “BEST” – Bird Environmental Stewardship Toolkit – held at Syngenta’s Jealott’s Hill research centre, as they were the sponsor of this project which, in their own words is a “new decision support tool to help you make the best choice of Entry Level Stewardship options on your farm easier and more effective”. What is interesting is that you can put in your own post code and find out what to do for the birds that are in your area.
Of course I tapped in my own post code – I live in a rural part of central Hampshire – and was slightly surprised to find a richer than expected array of birds in my area, including species such as Corn Bunting which I have never seen in this locality! That said, I suppose if I travelled 3 to 4 miles as the bunting flies, I could perhaps locate one or two, so that if I created suitable habitat for them, they might find it and become a local species to my house once more.
What the site does do well is to make you think about the wide range of options even the basic Entry Level Stewardship Scheme has on offer for farmland birds, and if it manages to persuade just a few farmers to be more adventurous with their choice of options, then it has to be a positive addition to the advice package available to farmers and others.