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Farmland bird populations declining

Target

1.1 Norwegian ecosystems will achieve good status and deliver ecosystem services.

Indicator

Population status of breeding bird species in the major ecosystems forest, mountains and cultural landscapes
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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Farmland is an important habitat for about 5 per cent of Norway’s breeding bird species . In the past 50 years there have been major changes as agriculture has become more intensive and heavily mechanised. In addition, many areas of marginal farmland have been developed for other purposes or have been abandoned and are becoming overgrown by forest and less suitable for farmland birds. 

The figure above shows a steady decline in the breeding population of eight of the commonest farmland species after 2000. The decline has been particularly steep for lapwing, curlew, skylark and yellowhammer, but less marked for starling, white wagtail, swallow and whinchat.  

Similar trends for farmland birds have been registered across large parts of Europe. They are considered to be linked to major changes in farming practices, which have been even greater in many other Western European countries than in Norway. If developments in the agricultural sector in Norway continue to follow the same trends as in other countries, we can expect a further decline in farmland breeding birds. 

It is possible to reduce such declines locally by increasing the funding available for grants to improve conditions for birds during the breeding season and by providing better information about the grant schemes.