Linking birds, fields and farmers

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The dramatic decline in the presence of farmland birds during recent decades has provoked much attention in agri-environmental policy and ecological research. However, the still limited understanding of the socio-economical mechanisms that govern the decline in bird presence hampers the formulation of effective adjustments in land-use and farming practices that could support the return of birds to farmland, i.e. the required fine-tuning of management practices. As a consequence, the existing agri-environmental schemes that offer financial compensation to farmers for implementing generally simple and rather crude measures to stimulate the presence of birds have been limited in their effectiveness and subject to much debate. The objective of this paper is to provide a sociological appraisal of farmers¿ experiences with meadow bird protection in a mainly dairy farming area in the Netherlands. The methodology combined visual map analysis, surveys, interviews with farmers and experts, and monitoring farmers¿ discussions. The results allowed an assessment of (i) farmers¿ views on historical changes in bird numbers in the area and the current distribution of bird nests, (ii) locally adjusted, fine-tuned management practices that were considered to be promising for protecting bird nests, (iii) the importance of farm management with `an eye for birds¿, i.e. farmers and/or birdwatchers paying additional attention to the presence of nests and chicks before carrying out farming activities, and (iv) the views of key experts in the socio-institutional network in the case study area. The paper concludes that there are various promising options for fine-tuning farm management so it offers better bird protection, but it is expected that such measures will predominantly be adopted on less intensively managed farms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S185-S192
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue numbersuppl. 2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • farm management
  • birds
  • monitoring
  • analysis
  • grassland birds
  • agri-environment schemes
  • agricultural landscapes
  • breeding waders
  • limosa-limosa
  • biodiversity
  • management
  • wetland
  • success


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