Introduction: What we hope to achieve
Professor Nick Sotherton, Director of Research, Advisory and Education
The GWCT first ran its Research Conference in 2012 and today we seek to build on the success of that initial event. With a series of talks, we will present our philosophy of conservation and the contribution to wildlife conservation in the UK made by the Trust over the last 40 years.
We seek to gather together groups of people; practitioners, policy makers and their statutory agencies to share experiences of the conservation of farmland wildlife and particularly how the UK’s agri-environment schemes might help us achieve our shared objectives of environmental protection, the promotion of biodiversity and the recovery of declining species.
Today’s presentations will illustrate how the GWCT goes about achieving its conservation objectives. These include:
- Using the principles of game management and the production of a harvestable surplus and applying them to species in decline. These include the provision of suitable habitats for each season (nesting cover, winter cover and brood-rearing cover), the provision of supplementary food and nest and brood protection during the breeding season.
- A bottom-up approach to conservation by engaging from the start with the farmer/land owning community and asking them what habitats and wildlife they want to see on the land they managed.
The event is full; 150 delegates from a wide range of organisations including Defra and its agencies, government departments from Scotland and Northern Ireland, wildlife trusts, farming organisations, seed companies, conservation charities and the pesticide industry.
Two of our presentations will set the scene, especially focusing on how changes brought about by the most recent reform of the CAP will affect agri-environment schemes in the future. Two detailed research talks will illustrate the science we can provide for policy makers and practitioners and four examples of how farmers are getting together to work at a landscape scale to improve the farmland environment will be presented.