Integrating biodiversity conservation into arable agriculture.
Increasing concern about the impact of modern farming systems on biodiversity has been reflected in the development of Biodiversity Action Plans for a number of farmland species, and the adoption of farmland bird populations as one of a set of indicators of sustainable agriculture. The Allerton Project aims to develop methods of integrating biodiversity conservation into commercial, conventional agriculture by a programme of habitat management incorporating both cropped and non-cropped areas at a within field, between field and landscape scale, using the production of wild game as an incentive for farmers and land managers. Adoption of this programme has led to a 42% increase in farmland bird populations over six years, as well as substantial increases in game birds and hares. The costs of the conservation techniques employed are summarised and the implications for wider application are discussed.