21 May 2013

Minister visits innovative Scottish partridge project

Minister for Environment Paul Wheelhouse (second right) with (from left) gamekeeper Graeme Rankin, Alastair Salvesen and Dave Parish.Minister for Environment, Paul Wheelhouse MSP visited the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) Scottish Grey Partridge Project at Whitburgh Farms, Midlothian today (Tuesday, May 21) viewing research and conservation for this vulnerable species.

Farm owner Alastair Salvesen and GWCT staff Dave Parish and Gemma Davis showed Mr Wheelhouse around the farm. The focus was on improving grey partridge nesting success, cover and food. It was felt that the research and monitoring being carried out into reversing the decline of this iconic farmland species will be highly relevant to future Scottish agri-environment schemes.

The project has also followed resident grey partridges using small radio-tags to gain an understanding of their habitat use. This work showed a considerable number of tagged birds were predated by birds of prey. In light of this impact, the project has undertaken wider monitoring of the resident birds of prey on the farm to gain an understanding of their habitat use and needs.

Dr Adam Smith, GWCT Director Scotland, said:

“This visit was about informing the Minister about farm biodiversity on agriculturally productive farms and how a game conservation approach can deliver species recovery and a host of wider wildlife benefits.”

Minister for Environment & Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said:

“The Scottish Grey Partridge Project is very important to Scotland’s natural heritage as it has the potential to reverse the decline in this species and will identify how we can return grey partridges to Scotland’s farmland and expand their range. The Scottish Government supports this innovative work through agri-environment measures to benefit farmland birds and this is one of our priorities as we consult with stakeholders on the design of the next SRDP.”

END

Photocaption: Minister for Environment Paul Wheelhouse (second right) with (from left) gamekeeper Graeme Rankin, Alastair Salvesen and Dave Parish.


Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

For information, contact:

Playfair Walker
Telephone: 0131 445 5570
Email: richard@playfairwalker.com

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