The National Sheep Association (NSA) is delighted to have been a recent partner in the delivery of the highest Big Farmland Bird count since the launch of the scheme back in 2014 by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The results demonstrate the commitment to conservation efforts integrated into everyday farming methods practiced by British farmers.

The farmland bird count was completed in February this year with a 65% increase of individual counts submitted compared to 2020, which in itself was a record year.

The area covered by the count was more than twice the area in 2020, with significantly more birds counted.

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NSA policy and technical officer, Sean Riches commented: “Lamb production supports rural communities as well as being a key player in delivering environmental stewardship schemes.

Sheep can be effectively used for conservation grazing in areas that would be difficult to manage otherwise, due to poor land quality or terrain.

“The use of livestock [particularly sheep] for conservation grazing is commonplace in national parks, and ensures protection and access of these areas for the general public,” he continued.

“Grazing by sheep and cattle is essential for maintaining good heathland, moorland and wetland sites.

Research has indicated that songbirds for example, prefer the mosaic of habitats that sheep grazing provides, and are present in higher numbers in areas grazed by sheep.

“It is therefore evident that the sheep industry in the UK makes a significant contribution to the environment,” he concluded.