RSPB project to bring more wildlife to Cambridgeshire farms

Turtle dove
Image caption It is hoped the conservation project will encourage species including turtle doves to return to farmland

Farmers in Cambridgeshire are taking part in an "ambitious new conservation project" set up by the RSPB.

The Thorney Farmland Bird-Friendly Zone involves 14 neighbouring farmers using conservation and land management methods to enhance local wildlife.

Crops are being left unharvested to feed birds in the winter and some plots are left fallow to encourage nesting.

The farmers' participation has been funded by the government's Environmental Stewardship Scheme.

The land-management scheme enables farmers to devote up to 10% of their land to bird or wildlife-enhancing projects.

The RSPB said although it regularly works with individual farmers, this was the first time a large group had agreed to take part in a conservation project of this type.

Conservation director Martin Harper said it would "provide a strong wildlife identity to the area".

It is hoped the 85-sq-mile (220-sq-km) zone at Thorney, near Peterborough, will improve the conservation prospects of farmland bird species including the corn bunting, turtle dove and lapwing.

One of the farmers taking part in the project, Gary Cade, said: "The zone has the ability to bring the public and farming together to demonstrate how modern agriculture can go hand-in-hand with protecting and enhancing farm wildlife."

The initiative is part of the RSPB's Fens Futurescape project, which aims to put back vital habitats lost to drainage and farming in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

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