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Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Monday, 16 August 2010 12:00 UK
Aylesbury Vale barn owl scheme receives extra funding
Barn Owl
The volunteers erect and monitor the nest boxes

The Aylesbury Vale barn owl scheme is a voluntary initiative.

Barn owl boxes are made available to landowners with suitable land, for a small donation which pays for the boxes and the expenses of the volunteers.

Barn owls rely on these areas of rough grassland, home to small mammals, to feed on.

The scheme has now been awarded over £75,000 of funding to help continue the work and secure the future of the barn owl in Buckinghamshire.

Around £50,000 has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £19,500 from WREN, a non-profit making environmental body, and £7,600 from the Aylesbury Vale Community Chest to help ensure the continuation of the barn owl conservation project.

Declining population

Barn owl populations are declining from the British countryside. This is partly due to reduced feeding opportunities (from changes in agricultural practices) and from a reduction in suitable nesting sites.

Barn Owl
The Barn Owl population is declining

In response to this, the Barn Owl Conservation Project was created.

The scheme is run by volunteers who give up their time to erect and monitor the nest boxes, ring the birds, provide advice to farmers and landowners and talk to local communities about the need to take action to help the barn owl.

To date the volunteers have put up more than 350 barn owl boxes with the support of local farmers and landowners and after nearly ten years hard work, the efforts to return this bird of prey to the countryside of Aylesbury Vale appear to be showing success.

Since 2008, when the volunteers were trained to ring the birds, 27 adult barn owls and 137 chicks (pulli) have been recorded.

Two adult kestrels and 71 kestrel chicks have also been found.

Prisoners involved

Prisoners at HMP Spring Hill, near Grendon Underwood, have been making the nesting boxes for more than three years.

Some prisoners are now working on site with volunteers on important nature conservation projects.

Lesley Davies, Green Spaces Team Manager, said: "This project demonstrates the commitment that the council has for the conservation of wildlife and habitats which is vital to ensure a healthy environment for us in Aylesbury Vale.

"The funding will make a real difference to barn owls, a species which is universally popular and which is in urgent need of conservation.

"There is so much that we need to do and the grant means that we can appoint a project officer to continue to work closely with our volunteers and farmers and make sure that our barn owls have a safe and secure future here."




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