Integration in a non-reserve landscape

The Avon ValleyIntegrated approaches involving both habitat and predator management are starting to be adopted on a few nature reserves. However, these sites consist of large, open landscapes with species-poor grassland reverted from arable land and are managed by single landowners with complete control over the grazing and other management of the site. At present we do not know whether it is feasible to implement the combination of habitat improvement and reduced predation in the wider countryside, such as more enclosed river floodplains with multiple small landholdings.

The Avon floodplain differs from other key breeding wader sites in England in that it is not managed wholly or partially as a nature reserve by a conservation organisation. The Avon Valley therefore makes a very good site for demonstrating what is achievable through a local farmer-led initiative. Achieving wader recovery at non-reserve sites is likely to be logistically more difficult than on reserves, because it requires co-operation between landowners and some of the methods employed on reserves may need to be modified in order to be acceptable to farmers. We believe that the key to success lies in tailoring a wide range of predator exclusion measures to individual circumstances based on an understanding of how different predators use the landscape.

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