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Barn Owls boosted by wildlife success

PUBLISHED: 11:55 19 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:55 20 February 2013

Barn Owl owlets within a nest-box (copyright Colin Shawyer).

Barn Owl owlets within a nest-box (copyright Colin Shawyer).

A new study predicts a boost of 25 per cent in Barn Owl numbers on farms growing commercial crops alongside special wildlife habitats.

A new study predicts a boost of 25 per cent in Barn Owl numbers on farms growing commercial crops alongside special wildlife habitats proving that farming can care for nature while producing the food we need.


The survey, carried out with the help of the Barn Owl Conservation Network on farms growing produce the nature-friendly Conservation Grade way, used the number of Barn Owl chicks leaving the nest at the end of last season to gauge the health of wildlife in the area.


More chicks were successfully reared on Conservation Grade farms than on farms not working within the standard, and this is expected to rise again this year as the owls become more accustomed to new nesting boxes.


Conservation Grades Tim Nevard explains that Barn Owls are an ideal indicator of the health of an ecosystem on a farm, as small mammals and insects are the mainstay of their food chain.


The difference in fledging rate between Conservation Grade and other farms wasnt dramatic last year, but it did rise, he says. All things being equal we anticipate a much bigger difference this year around 25 per cent more owls as they get used to the new boxes.


Conservation Grade farmers actively farm for wildlife by putting 10 per cent of their least productive land into specific habitats and growing premium quality food very efficiently on the remainder.


Adam West from Natural England, the governments nature conservation agency, says: We support Conservation Grades evidence-based approach to sustainable farming.


By combining first-class farmland wildlife conservation with the best agricultural production standards, it achieves a win-win outcome for nature and food security. Their Barn Owl project is a great example of this.


People can choose to support Conservation Grades sustainable way of farming by looking for the Nature Friendly Farming logo with the bee in supermarkets and other outlets.


A new website detailing the study and providing more facts about owls and biodiversity, http://www.naturefriendlyowls.org/, also carries information about the makers of Nature Friendly Farming products and their well-known brands.

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