Downing St Curlew Summit

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On 8th July 2019 a group of us met, at the invitation of Lord John Randall, to present the issues facing curlews to the Curlew Champions of England, Scotland and Wales, and the country agencies. The 2-hour meeting was informative and passionate and the minutes and summary are below. The Curlew Champions are Mark Isherwood AM for Wales, Lewis Macdonald for Scotland MSP and Jake Berry MP for England. Now- let’s see if there is any action…

Minutes:

Curlew Summit

Monday July 8th 2019

11.00 – 13.00

10 Downing St, London

 

MEETING NOTES

Present:

Lord John Randall (co-Chair), Mary Colwell (co-Chair), Jake Berry MP, Lewis Macdonald MSP, Mark Isherwood AM, James Phillips (NE), Patrick Lindley (NRW), Des Thompson (SNH), Richard Pullen (DEFRA) Professor Ian Newton, David Stroud (JNCC), Sarah Sanders (RSPB), David Douglas (RSPB), Sam Franks (BTO), Andrew Hoodless (GWCT), Tom Orde-Powlett (Bolton Castle Estate), Russell Wynn (New Forest), Tony Cross (field ornithologist), Tim Robinson (Peak District Predator Control), Geoff Hilton (WWT), Amanda Perkins (Curlew Country), Phil Sheldrake (Curlew Forum).

 Introductions and thanks

2.     Lord Randall opened the meeting with thanks to DEFRA, noting that the Secretary of State is aware of the meeting.  Thanks to Mary Colwell, as well as the three species champions: Jake Berry, Lewis Macdonald and Mark Isherwood, each of whom gave a statement of support for work to save Curlews, noting that the State of Birds in Wales 2018’ report shows that more than 75% of the Curlew population in Wales has disappeared over the last 25 years, with no hint of this trend levelling out.

 Why are we all here?

Mary Colwell spoke about the catastrophic loss of Curlew numbers across the UK, the cultural significance of Curlews, and their power to capture the minds and hearts of people.  Beyond their importance as an individual species, they provide a powerful lens through which we can view the problems of intensive farming and other sweeping changes to our landscapes and give us pointers on how to put things right. Anything we do for Curlews will benefit a range of other species too. They also help us focus in a practical way on the great crises of our time, namely biodiversity loss and climate change.

 Current state of play

Prof Ian Newton gave an overview of the changes to the farmed landscape over the 20th C and how this has impacted curlews.

·      Land drainage, particularly during the 1970s and 80s, has led to a loss of damp rush pastures favoured by Curlew, and a general lowering of the water table. And the use of this recovered land has been dominated by high intensity monocultures of silage grass or arable crops.

·      Poor quality traditional grasses that were mowed once a year have been replaced by fast-growing ryegrass which receives multiple mowing. The first cut in late May destroys eggs and chicks. An interval of 5-6 weeks before the next cut is not long enough for any bird to successfully breed again.

·      Widespread planting of conifers on uplands has led to massive habitat loss (an estimate of 5000 breeding Curlew pairs were lost through the planting of the Galloway Forest).  Important to note that it is not just the planted land itself that destroys the birds – the land in a large area around the forest ceases to be a sustainable habitat for ground nesting birds, as the forest provides ideal cover for predators (mostly fox, carrion crows and badgers).

·      Huge increases in the density of sheep on grazing land which mean the loss of many nests through trampling and egg-eating. 

·      Huge increases in the numbers of predators which in most places now make it impossible for Curlew to achieve sufficient reproductive output. It is chiefly on grouse moors, under predator control, that Curlews still manage to produce sufficient young to maintain their numbers.

 Dr David Douglas – provided an assessment of the decline of British Curlew over last 20 years and their importance to European population and European trends.

·      The species is spread across northern Europe and Russia and the UK supports approx. ¼ of the breeding population.

·      The UK is the third most important home to the Curlew (after Russia and Finland)

·      The Curlew is in danger of extinction

·      On average in the British Isles there has been 48% loss of numbers in the past 25 years

o   30% loss in England

o   61% in Wales

o   63% in Scotland

o   82% in Northern Ireland

·      We think this loss is worse than in Russia and Finland, and the declines in the UK impact globally

·      The estimates of Curlew breeding pairs were:

o   68,000 in the UK, 13 years ago – this is almost certainly an overestimate.  The true current number is likely to be half that.

o   1100 in Wales, 13 years ago – the current number is thought to be approximately 400.

o   526 in Northern Ireland, 6 years ago – the current number is now certainly lower.

o   300 pairs remain in Southern England

o   128 pairs in the whole of the Republic of Ireland

·      The strongholds for the species are upland England and Scotland, where numbers are better but still declining fast.

·      Two of the other seven species of Curlew (Eskimo Curlew, Slender-billed Curlew) are probably extinct, so there is no room for complacency.

 Action so far and thinking forward

Mary Colwell:  there has been extensive awareness-raising with the public and stakeholders; meetings. Four national conferences have been held plus one conference hosted by Prince Charles on Dartmoor in 2018. Research projects have identified specific proposals in four main areas that must now be addressed.

1.     Targeted and flexible agri-environment schemes to include:

·      Compensation for farmers for habitat creation and flexible mowing

·      Options for targeted, localised and proportionate predator control, both lethal and non-lethal methods

·      Measuring the success of Curlew conservation and adapting methods accordingly.

 2.     Public engagement,

·      Awareness

·      Involvement – including well-managed use of volunteers

3      Establishment of SPAs for breeding Curlew
4      Central co-ordination

 Geoff Hilton: Targeted and flexible agri-environment schemes

Curlews need:

·      Insect-rich open country (not necessarily wet)

·      Not to be rolled, harrowed or mowed

·      Not to be predated

We must create schemes for farmers, with the following features:

·      Targeted – we must put the money where the Curlews are

·      Flexible – we must not strait-jacket farmers and allow then to adapt schemes from experience

·      Farmer Clusters work really well, to enhance both motivation among farmers as well as to create geographic scale

·      Partnerships between farmers and advisors

Our experience (including Curlew Country in Shropshire) tells us that there is massive support and goodwill from farmers for this work.  Farmers tell us that predator control is an essential part of the equation.

Proposals

·      Agri-environment schemes must be co-designed by statutory agencies, Curlew experts, farmers, land owners and land managers, using tests and trials to assess effectiveness.  They should be offered a suite of options (eg later mowing, mowing in strips, mowing around Curlew nest sites) so they can choose the one that is most appropriate for their land.

·      We must partner farmer clusters with local conservation groups (including volunteers) who can map Curlew pairs.

·      The benefits of this co-operative structure include:

o   Genuine partnership

o   Good use of volunteers

o   Potential certification of certain products (Curlew Friendly cheese, milk etc)

o   Soil health and bio-diversity

·      NB these proposals are lowlands focused but are, in part, relevant to the uplands too.

Additional input:

Tony Cross:  Farmers must be on board.  Need both changes in mowing and predator control at different times in the cycle.

Amanda Perkins:  Experience of Curlew Country.  Farmers unwilling to engage with top down conservation have embraced the grass roots up model because of their concern for Curlew, the ability to work with people they trust and the willingness of conservationists to take predation control seriously.  This combination of factors has quickly led to farmers considering a wide range of environmental measures using waders as indicator species.

Phil Sheldrake: Outlined a proposal to work with farmer clusters specifically focusing on the needs of the species to raise productivity by increasing hatching and fledging success. Differs from existing Countryside Stewardship and proposed agri-environment schemes (which focus on habitat condition) in that compensation payments are only made for intervention in response to the specific need of a breeding attempt. A key feature is therefore that all nesting attempts benefit across all habitats, including arable, grassland and semi-natural.

 Please see Phil Sheldrake’s proposal in the attached appendix

Mark Isherwood commented on the need for the 4 nations to integrate their work on this, involving the Welsh and Scottish Governments in respect of their devolved responsibilities in these areas, and reflecting the ongoing work between the 4 Governments (*) on UK-wide frameworks in relevant areas to avoid post-Brexit disruption to the UK’s internal market”. (* represented by Civil Servants in Northern Ireland).

Lewis Macdonald commented on the need for a new co-ordination regime but importantly new resources to be allocated.

Ian Newton asked to what extent should we link agri-environmental work with predator control to make sure things work and thereby ensure continuing farmer motivation.

Tom Orde-Powlett cited a case of a farmer on his land refusing an offer of AES payments as he felt he could provide better grazing regime for waders out of the scheme

David Douglas noted the need to assess the uptake rate of any scheme

 Andrew Hoodless:  Funding for focussed Predator Control.

·      Use of public funds for predator control is not a long-term solution to Curlew declines, but is essential in the short-term to increase productivity.

·      Agri-environment schemes need to work hand-in-hand with predator control.

·      Lethal control of foxes and corvids is not popular, but can be highly effective. (In one experiment, without PC only 15% of Curlew pairs fledged a brood and numbers declined by 17% pa, whereas with PC 51% of pairs fledged a brood and numbers increased by 14% pa).

·      Predation control (lethal and non-lethal) is not a fix-all solution – it is expensive, time consuming and requires a high level of practitioner competence for ethical and animal welfare reasons.

·      Predator exclusion fencing can be very effective for protecting nests, although it is more practical in the lowlands. However, fencing will not protect Curlew broods. Currently, our main challenge is to get chicks to fledging, which requires addressing chick predation and pressures from modern farming.

·      Control must be targeted and proportionate – a 5-6 month window from Jan to June.

·      How should it be funded? A top-up payment for farmers is likely to be less effective owing to variable willingness or time to do it and mixed competence. Better to pay an expert who is both trained and accountable.

·      Working in farmer clusters works well. A Curlew Recovery Network of farmer clusters each supported by a predation control co-ordinator reporting to NE, CCW or SNH should be trialled for 5 years. Thereafter, with improvements to habitat and changes in farming practices, periodic action might be required for 2 years in every 8-10.

·      Cost for a package including lethal and non-lethal measures might be £100K-£150K pa for an area up to 20,000 hectares. (Sarah Sanders posited £30,000 for 1,000 hectares).

·      Documentation of effort and outcomes is essential to enable future refinement of actions and provide a clear justification as part of education messages.

Tim Robinson has been doing predator control specifically for wader conservation for the past 18 years.  Public perception is driven by misinformation on social media.  It’s a very emotive subject.  The activity is easily disrupted by protests.  Public education is needed.

Patrick Lindley asked what extent and cost associated with predator control is needed to maintain Curlew populations. We have indicative costs for predator control on large game estates where breeding waders have responded to the removal of corvid species (carrion crow and magpie), foxes and mustelids (stoats and weasels) however, there is a need to understand what effective appropriate scale of predator control is required to deliver an increase in breeding success.

Geoff Hilton describes the work the WWT are doing on headstarting (incubating eggs and releasing young birds).  And emergency measure that props up an endangered population in the short term (hence in some ways analogous to predator control).

Geoff Hilton highlights the need to find out why UK has such high predator numbers (highest in Europe).  It could take a research consortium 5 to 10 years to come to a conclusion.  This should also be a priority for NERC/DEFRA ongoing funding.  There was general agreement of the need for this but also the importance of the need to address the Curlew crisis now.  He highlighted that lethal predator control is an emergency response to deal with the immediate problem of high predator numbers but is not sustainable. In the longer term we must develop a much better understanding of why predators are increasing in our landscapes (e.g. through game bird release, forestry, lack of apex predators etc.) so that we can reduce them.

Tom Orde-Powlett noted the higher density of predator populations near built-up areas, citing his experience in Wensleydale.

Lord Randall affirmed the need for education.  Social media makes it harder to communicate conservation need, but we must be careful we don’t lose people along the way.

Sarah Sanders noted that even with effective education, some people will always oppose predator control.

Amanda Perkins highlighted the evidence from the Curlew Country project where those reluctant to consider predation control understood the need when they followed research which demonstrated the need.

 Sam Franks - Measuring Success – the need for data.

·      We cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach

·      We need to measure both initial populations as well as the impact of schemes.

·      We need to involve everyone – working with farmers increases ownership.

·      We need to share information.   Data is shared informally across networks, but there must be a more formal structure through which to share information.

·      There needs to be a common approach to methods (where feasible), but at least a common measurement of productivity.

·      Actions need to be sustainable and realistic.

·      There needs to be involvement of social scientists to enable a cost-benefit assessment informing the sustainability of conservation actions.

Mary Colwell asks do we need a new national survey?

Ian Newton appreciated the value of a national survey, but made the point that, at this time, a national survey should be undertaken only if the funding for it is additional to any on-the-ground work, but not if the survey reduced the money available for urgent localised field projects.

Sam Franks felt that existing data (e.g. Breeding Bird Survey, Atlas) should provide adequate measures of abundance/occurrence, trends and hotspots, and that understanding the local causes of decline and impact of conservation action through monitoring should now be a key focus.

Tom Orde-Powlett highlighted some of the problems of acquiring data by insufficiently trained volunteers, who might do more harm than good (scaring birds off nests, trampling etc).

Phil Sheldrake – felt that a high-level national survey offered a powerful PR opportunity to gain the interest of the general population.

Des Thompson – pointed out the need to identify breeding Curlew hot-spots

Geoff Hilton – how will we define a hotspot?  Sometimes local passion is a strong enough argument for initiating a project in a particular location even though numbers may be low. This is true for some well-loved Curlew populations in S England.

Patrick Lindley – supported the need to identify ‘important Curlew areas’ for breeding birds and to target sufficient resources at such areas.  However, he noted there is a conservation dilemma in this approach that needs to be addressed ie whether to maintain small isolated declining populations that may otherwise go locally extinct or to focus the main thrust of conservation recovery at country specific ‘important Curlew areas’

Russell Wynn - Public engagement, involvement and awareness.

·      Having the support of the public is crucial for success, and we need to take account of the influence of printed and social media. 

o   The farming and fishing communities are currently feeling beleaguered due to the environmental ‘blame game’ – this is a chance to give farmers a PR win re the environment. 

o   Every organisation around this table needs to be giving a united message to the public, particularly around emotive topics such as predator control

·      Citizen science is a powerful tool

o   The organisations around the table have the power to leverage several million £ in volunteer and charitable resource to match any HMG cash funding.

o   Any survey work must be designed very carefully, with volunteers well trained, and with a central point (online) for the public to communicate

·      We need to address the issue of recreational disturbance (such as dogs walking) and the public needs to take ownership of that problem.

o   Educational outreach to support mitigation measures, e.g. better signage with explanations of why the public might be asked not to walk their dogs off a lead in a particular area at certain times of year (the carrot).

o   Byelaws – we need more top-down support from lawmakers so that local authorities have the power to make these things happen (the stick).

Patrick Lindley – suggested an action to share best practice information on public engagement models that work

 David Stroud – Establishment of SPAs

A plea to establish an SPA in the North Pennines in line with the recommendation in 2001.   And to identify and establish further SPAs around the country, especially in Scotland.

David Douglas added:  the work has all been done in North Pennines, the government simply needs to take forward the recommendation.  SPA has the advantage of restricting damaging developments eg wind farms

Tom Orde-Powlett added that he supports the addition of including Curlews in the North Pennines SPA, but there is a risk of increased bureaucracy and regulation which could regulate Curlews out of existence. The recent revocation of general licenses and ongoing lack of clarity over their use on some protected areas. and banning of heather burning on areas of deep peat, are both examples of this.

 Amanda Perkins highlighted the need for SPAs to be introduced and administered in a way that does not to threaten the people who deliver conservation on the ground.

Andrew Hoodless: SPA boundaries need to include important feeding sites for adult Curlews as well as nesting areas. Several tracking studies are now highlighting the importance of particular meadows or intertidal areas that are used by off-duty birds during the breeding season.

Sarah Sanders - Coordination of Action. Central hub to local action.

·      It is vital to work at scale and work together

·      The existing forum - the UK and Ireland Curlew Action Group – brings together many stakeholders, statutory bodies and NGOs.  It meets twice a year.  But this group is not an adequate structure moving forward.

Geoff Hilton highlighted the need to professionalise, working through DEFRA and JNCC with professional staff time allocated to delivering the work programme that the working groups or sub-groups devise. i.e. some form of professional secretariat (these could be people embedded in organisations and may only form part of their jobs).

Sam Franks noted BTO's work for Working for Waders to scope the creation of an information sharing and data collation hub.

Jake Berry suggested that the 3 Curlew Champions collectively seek to identify a way to provide a UK point of coordination that was not DEFRA.

Lewis Macdonald suggested that JNCC and the Committee on Climate Change provided good models for respected UK-wide co-ordination and policy advice independent of any particular government.

 

Post script: Patrick Lindley added that a possible structure could be top down to country group but bottom up from regional groups to country specific groups that are currently established and suggested 4 tiers:

 

UK group convened by devolved administrations on a rotational basis to set the strategic direction

 

Specialist working groups acting as T&F groups for a particular theme

 

Country Specific working groups to guide recovery

 

Regional working groups or initiatives to implement conservation action

 

 David Stroud highlighted a number of possible actions.

1.     This is important and urgent.  Action must be taken now.

2.     Current efforts are too small and too fragmented.

3.     We have identified the major reasons for the decline: landscape use, predation. There is also the problem of restarting the shooting of Curlew in France. We know birds from Shropshire and New Forest both go to France in the winter.

4.     Work to restore Curlew populations will benefit many other species and the environment generally.

ACTIONS GOING FORWARD

1.     SPAs – We must designate and enact SPAs for the protection of Curlews and other waders.

2.     Agri-environment schemes – we must design and fund workable, flexible and targeted needs-based schemes.

a.     Advisors – adequate funding must be made available for qualified and experienced advisors

b.    Targeting – crucial areas must be identified, and work must take place in clusters

c.     Farmers/landowners – the importance of engaging with farmers/landowners, who need to take ownership of any schemes

3.     Predator control – adequate funding must be given to well-designed predator control schemes

4.     Headstarting – in the short term, head-starting schemes must supplement declining populations

5.     Monitoring – we must fund effective monitoring, including a national survey if extra cash is made available for it.

6.     Public engagement - awareness of the power of social media.

a.     Funding for volunteer training and engagement

b.    Creating a groundswell of support

7.     Co-ordination – co-ordination at UK, national and local level should be:

a.     Well-resourced

b.    Neutrally led

c.     Inclusive

d.    Sharing best practice and research

e.     Engaging with the public.

 

For a summary of the suggested actions to be taken forward, please see the Curlew Summit Statement. 

Appendix – Phil Sheldrake’s proposed model for Severn and Avon Vales

 Proposed trial: Raising Curlew productivity in the Severn & Avon Vales - a needs-based project brief

Objective: Develop a collective approach to Curlew conservation, bringing together farms in the S&AV as stakeholders and ‘members’ of the project. Reward for membership (on-farm Curlew breeding attempts being given the best chance of success) is motivated and encouraged through being underwritten by a compensation scheme ensuring ‘no net financial loss’.

Management and interventions for Curlew are therefore incentivised without the need for frontloading of payments, as is the current mechanism for agri-environment funding. Additionally, Countryside Stewardship (CS) and the proposed results-based payment approach New England Land Management Scheme (NEMLS) focus on habitat management; this needs-based project is focused on the requirement of the species, the Curlew itself.

Components:

Project area based on Curlew distribution

Landowner membership

CU project team

Requirements:

Funding for project team: staffing and capital equipment (eg. 4x4, optics, fencing etc.).

Funding for intervention: a compensation payment scheme for habitat interventions calculated on the basis of income forgone, providing a guaranteed payment rate per hectare for delayed mowing.

Funding to be provided centrally funded as per Facilitation Funding in Agri-env., or creatively funded eg. privately or grant funding.

Operation:

Landowners/farmers pay a nominal membership fee to join the project. The amount need only be a few pounds but has the effect of the farmer/landowner being a member of something and therefore a sense of having a stake in its success.

In return, project staff commit to surveying the landholding for Curlew and monitoring any nesting attempts to outcome.

The project will manage an intervention funding pot for the purposes of:

1. Purchase and hold intervention equipment eg. fencing, which can be deployed by project staff as appropriate (no cost to farmer).

2. Farming interventions. Project staff will advise on farming operations as appropriate. Where advice includes, for example, delay of cutting, a guaranteed figure will be negotiated on the basis of income forgone which can be claimed by the farmer upon outcome of the nesting attempt.

The project meets SMART objectives:

Specific: the project aims to increase productivity

Measurable: hatching & fledging success is monitored

Achievable: members commit to scope of the project

Relevant: directly addresses key causes of low productivity: predation at egg stage and losses at chick stage due to mowing

Time-based: annual activity and review cycle

 Phil Sheldrake: philip.sheldrake@rspb.org.uk

Statement from the Curlew Summit, 8 July 2019

 A meeting to discuss the pressing conservation issues facing breeding Curlew in the UK was held at No. 10 Downing Street on 8 July 2019.  It was attended by representatives of conservation non-government organisations, game and land-owning interests, as well as ornithologists closely involved with Curlew conservation issues.  Its aim was to brief Lord John Randall and the three Parliamentary Curlew Champions: Jake Berry MP, Lewis Macdonald MSP and Mark Isherwood AM as well as those representing government departments and statutory conservation agencies for England, Wales and Scotland.  This statement reflects key points from the discussion which cannot be taken as necessarily reflecting the views of all those represented.

 The problem

1.     Addressing and reversing the causes of Curlew declines is imperative because of:

·       the species’ cultural importance to people;

·       its role as an ecological umbrella species;

·       our obligations to fulfil country, UK and international legal requirements.

Population modelling shows that in large parts of the UK, extinction is likely within one to two decades if current trends continue.

2.     A good start has been made with current initiatives, but typically these are:

·       too small and localised;

·       unfunded or lacking medium-term funding security;

·       uncoordinated

 3.     Curlew breeding success is impacted by multiple issues, the importance of which vary geographically. Some are particularly severe and widespread.  These are principally:

·       predation of nests and young;

·       mortality during grass rolling, harrowing and cutting;

·       upland afforestation;

·       recreational disturbance (especially from dog-walking);

·       changes to grazing regimes;

·       land abandonment.

These multiple causes often interact.

 4.     The impact of re-opening shooting in France during the non-breeding season will impact British breeding Curlew with high certainty. For example, we know that Curlew from both Shropshire and the New Forest over-winter in France.

 Conservation measures needed

5.     Close engagement with the farming and land-owning community is critical in order to share ownership of the issues and co-create solutions for Curlew.  This needs actions at all scales from local to national.  Working with farmers on Curlew conservation will also give multiple other benefits to other ground nesting birds, wildflowers and insects and potentially create a template for improved partnership between farmers and conservationists.

 6.     Effective agri-environment and other land-management schemes that fund and deliver necessary measures are critical for Curlew conservation.  These schemes need to be effective, flexible and targeted and learn from existing initiatives.  Effective land management schemes will:

·       provide adequate compensation for Curlew-friendly grassland management;

·       provide adequate compensation for intervention measures to increase hatching and fledging success across all habitats including arable, grassland and semi-natural;

·       monitor effectiveness and outcomes as a critical element that allows progressive adaptation of measures;

·       have adequate funding for advisors to promote and encourage local uptake;

·       build on the successful ‘farmer cluster’ model;

·       focus actions in target areas (for example clusters of farmers working with local conservation groups and volunteers) to develop and refine knowledge of effective actions that can be implemented more widely.  Identification of these target areas being a priority;

·       provide funding for both predator deterrence and legal and targeted predator control by well-trained practitioners using best practise methods at a sufficiently wide scale and be undertaken in conjunction with Curlew-friendly grassland management.

7 . Ambitious, long-term and collaborative research to understand the reasons why predators are so abundant, and to identify landscape-management solutions to the problem. A number of solutions to unsustainable predation rates are available, including lethal predator control, but most suffer from some combination of high cost, difficulty, or controversy. At the same time, high generalist predator abundance is a pervasive problem for British wildlife.

8.      ‘Head-starting’ (i.e. artificially incubating eggs and subsequently releasing fledglings) may be necessary to sustain local populations until land management and predation issues are addressed. Similarly, headstarting can be used to return populations to areas where they have been lost. However, this is costly and does not resolve the underlying problems.  Accordingly, it is essential that head-starting integrates with broader Curlew recovery planning. National co-ordination of headstarting initiatives to ensure best practice, shared learning, use of resources (including available eggs) and reporting would be beneficial.

9.     Targeted surveys in identified hotspots is essential to provide baseline data for conservation measures. A full national survey would provide valuable information for targeting land management schemes and would also be valuable in helping raise the public profile of Curlew conservation needs.  However, resourcing such a survey should not be at the expense of practical conservation actions.

10.  It will be critical to monitor the effectiveness of management measures so these can be progressively adapted.  Local volunteers can assist with monitoring but support, co-ordination and training must be financially supported.  Knowledge of remnant populations in south England is good thanks to efforts of several local conservation groups with substantial volunteer input. However, knowledge of breeding success and numbers away from these areas is much more limited although good in a few areas. 

11.  There are no designated internationally important sites for breeding Curlew despite the North Pennines being proposed as a Special Protection Areas for the species in 2001.  Statutory site protection will aid conservation actions at this site.  The need for further SPAs has been recognised elsewhere, especially in Scotland, and identification, designation and management of core breeding areas needs to be urgently progressed.

12.  Co-ordination across the four countries of the UK is necessary to ensure co-ordination of policies; exchange of information; and collective ‘learning by doing’.  Co-ordination should be:

·       adequately resourced;

·       inclusive of relevant stakeholders;

·       exploit the significant resources and knowledge that the non-government sector can contribute;

·       share best practice in design, monitoring and adaptation of agri-environment schemes and other measures;

·       co-ordinate priority research;

·       co-ordinate outreach and public awareness – especially with the farming community and in respect to predation control;

·       representative of all 4 countries, possibly with a rotating chair that is serviced by a neutral advisory body such as JNCC. This structure is under discussion.

Co-ordination structures previously used for issues such as raptors and lead shot in wetlands could provide useful models.  ‘Top-down’ co-ordination needs to be supplemented by ‘bottom-up’ input.

13.  Actions for Curlew will directly benefit multiple other species and generate conservation recovery methods applicable in other situations.  Collectively we need to significantly step-up the urgency, intensity and focus of actions for Curlew if we are not to lose this iconic bird ‘on our watch’.