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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Farmer boosts lapwing population
Between 1970 and 1999, lapwing numbers declined by 40%
A farmer from East Sussex has been rewarded for helping to establish a large breeding population of lapwings, a wading bird once common to Britain.

Martin Hole, from Hankham near Pevensey, beat 122 farmers to win the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' 2004 Operation Lapwing Award.

In just five years, his efforts have increased the local population from two or three pairs to about 40 pairs.

Between 1970 and 1999, lapwing numbers declined by 40% said the RSPB.

"We took a risk in creating wetland conditions because there was no guarantee the lapwings would come, but they came in great numbers which was wonderfully exciting and satisfying," said Mr Hole.

On part of his farm, he allowed an area of arable land to revert to grassland through a process of natural regeneration.

Mr Hole's efforts have also led to an increase in breeding redshanks

In addition to attracting 20 pairs of lapwings, this area is also used by large numbers of skylarks and yellow wagtails.

He also raised water levels to create an area of wet grassland, making it popular with breeding redshanks and large numbers of wintering wildfowl, in addition to another 20 pairs of lapwings.

As a farmer, Mr Hole said his conservation work was made easier by government policies which support his business.

RSPB spokesman Richard Winspear said that from next year, British farmers will be able to benefit from a government scheme that rewards them for providing habitats for wildlife.

He also said he hoped such schemes, in combination with competitions like Operation Lapwing, would raise awareness of what farmers can do to help support wildlife on their land.

UK wading birds in decline
04 Jun 03  |  UK

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