Curlew Country attended the Waders for Real conference, hosted by GWCT at their head office at Fordingbridge. The conference brought together projects, organisations and farmers that have been working in wader conservation in recent years. The Waders for Real LIFE funded project, which works primarily with Lapwing, but also Snipe and Redshank, has made great progress by gathering farmers together in their catchment area to address issues facing these waders. Farmers and landowners have been encouraged to work together, with advice from the GWCT team, to make improvements to the habitat and alter grazing regimes to reduce conflict with the breeding birds.
The 2-day conference also saw presentations from Elmley, where farming and conservation go hand in hand, the Project Godwit which works through a partnership between the RSPB and WWT to save a species on the brink, vital research into predator movements from GWCT amongst many others. Amanda Perkins, Curlew Country project manager, also gave a talk on farmer and landowner engagement, a vital part to the success of any effort to help ground-nesting birds.
One of the best things to emerge from these days, was the outcome of discussions into how a new scheme might work to benefit breeding waders. The wealth of knowledge and different backgrounds made for interesting and in-depth discussions on the issues with current schemes, and how these might be addressed in the future. Overwhelmingly it was agreed that it is only by working with farmers, at a landscape scale that real results are likely to be achieved. Any new scheme must recognise the uniqueness of each farm and environment and be flexible in its approach to achieving those wider goals.
Seeing people from all walks of life, and from across the UK come together to discuss and learn more about these issues is inspiring. It was a great conference and we hope a firm step in the right direction to help ensure that all of our combined efforts will not be too late to save the Lapwing, the Curlew, and our other beloved waders.