A remarkable project to restore lapwing to an English valley has shown that, given the right funding, advice and encouragement, and by working together, farmers can boost biodiversity in the UK’s countryside.
The LIFE Waders for Real project, set up by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), has managed to reverse the downward trend of lapwing and other waders in the Avon Valley between Salisbury and Christchurch. Now a new booklet, Saving our Lapwing: A Guide to Successful Working Conservation, documents their success and describes the conditions lapwing need to thrive. Central to that success has been the commitment of 40 local land managers working together on a landscape scale to help their lapwing population
By starting with existing breeding populations of lapwing, incorporating predator control alongside habitat creation and, most importantly, involving local land managers, the LIFE Waders for Real project has succeeded in increasing the number of lapwing in the Avon Valley, from 61 pairs in 2015 to 105 in 2019. Crucially, the project has also succeeded in improving breeding success. To remain stable, a local population needs to fledge an average of 0.7 chick per pair each year. Prior to the project, lapwing productivity had dropped as low as 0.4 young per pair. By 2019, the figure was 0.96, safely exceeding the critical level for sustainability. The project has also seen remarkable success with the redshank population. Redshank have increased from 19 pairs in 2015 to 35 in 2019.