Defra General Licence Public Survey – Licence users respond in droves to GWCT survey


Defra is currently reviewing the General Licensing system that operates in England. Earlier this year the GWCT submitted our review of the scientific evidence base of the effects of controlling certain common predatory and pest bird species under the General licences on the breeding success of a range of different bird species.

We also provided practitioner-based experience from farmers, gamekeepers and other users of General Licences about how the revocation of the licences in April, following a legal challenge by Wild Justice, compromised their work and conservation outcomes. We also received many responses highlighting the damage to crops and livestock that occurred due to the revocation of the licences.

According to Defra, the review earlier in the year highlighted some areas where evidence was currently lacking, so they launched a public survey which closed on the 5th December which asked more specific questions to feed in to the development of a future licensing system. This survey, alongside stakeholder meetings that the GWCT look forward to participating in during January, will help inform future licensing arrangements.

The GWCT General Licences Survey

The GWCT developed a short survey based on the Defra one which we encouraged our members who use General Licences to complete. Several other rural and conservation organisations encouraged their members to complete the survey too.

The survey collected information on the species controlled by respondents, the reasons why this control was necessary, the alternatives that had been tried and the effectiveness of them. Nearly 3000 General Licence users completed the survey and the report can be viewed here

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It provides fascinating first-hand accounts from the people on the ground who use the licences of the relative effectiveness of different types of non-lethal control. It also provides a significant body of practitioner-based evidence of the impacts that a range of different common pest and predatory species can have on other wildlife and on crops and livestock.

Roger Draycott, Head of Advisory at GWCT commented: ‘The survey provides a wealth of new practical information from the people that actually use the General Licences as part of their everyday land management activities. We thank everyone who responded to the survey and all the organisations who encouraged their members to participate.’

You can download the review we submitted to Defra earlier this year here

General Licences in 2020 - we are taking action now

We're asking if you will help fund our challenging programme of work to ensure that those in charge listen not only to the science, but also the reality on the ground. You understand that if we want our countryside to thrive, it must be managed. We can’t sit back and hope nature looks after curlew and lapwing, or produces enough crops to feed our growing population.

The GWCT has always championed scientific research as the way to inform those putting conservation into practice. Our studies have helped to improve the nation’s understanding of all aspects of land management.

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