The NGO has welcomed the conclusions of a conference organised by FACE in Brussels, which got to the heart of why predator control can be a vital element in conserving many of our rapidly declining bird species.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation welcomes the conclusions of a recent conference in Brussels, which concluded that predator control is an essential tool for bird conservation across Europe and requires close cooperation between hunters, farmers, landowners, bird organisations and authorities.

The conference, held on the 6th March, was organised by FACE and hosted by Members of the European Parliament.  FACE is the European Federation of Hunting and Conservation and the NGO is a long-standing member of the organisation.

Charles Nodder, Political Adviser with the NGO said, “We very much welcome the conclusions of this conference. It really got to the heart of why predator control can be a vital element in conserving many of our rapidly declining bird species.  Research in the UK is unequivocal in showing that protecting birds such as threatened curlew from predators in the nesting season is vital if we wish to save many once common species.  However, the stumbling block is a lack of public understanding and we need to get much better at communicating the role predator control plays in conservation.”

The conference discussed how population declines of previously common breeding birds in Europe such as lapwing and curlew are often driven by low reproductive success resulting from habitat loss and high levels of chick/nest predation.

Dan Brown, RSPB and Bertwin Elshof, a Dutch farmer from the Agro-cooperative Lierderbroek, showed examples from the UK and the Netherlands of how farms can be incentivised to create suitable habitat for breeding birds.  But, Bertwin Elshof stated: “If meadow birds are not able to produce offspring, due to predation, habitat measures are not going to be effective.”

Joseph van der Stegen, European Commission, clarified that within the EU laws, there is an obligation for Member States to conserve bird species and that predator control is widely used, and necessary when predation is an identified as a threat.

All speakers and participants agreed that it is very important to effectively communicate to the public why predator control is required. Iben Hove Sorensen, from the Danish Hunters’ Association said: “It is important to clearly explain why predator control is important, as some people might not understand the role of predator control in conservation.”

MEP Bendt Bendtsen, Vice-President of the Intergroup, who chaired the meeting concluded with:  “EU policy contains a clear obligation to conserve wild bird species and their habitats.  To achieve conservation successes for these species, there is broad consensus that we need to address predation, in conjunction with creating more and better habitat.”

The NGO and other UK shooting organisations will continue to be members of FACE after Brexit in order to monitor and influence the development of legislation in Europe when it may have a bearing on the UK.


Notes to Editors:

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation: The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. The NGO defends and promotes gamekeeping and gamekeepers and works to ensure high standards throughout the profession. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that keepering was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.

FACE is the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation. Established in 1977, FACE represents the interests of Europe’s 7 million hunters as an international non-profit-making nongovernmental organisation. FACE is made up of national hunters’ associations from 36 European countries including the EU-28. FACE is supported by 7 associate members and is based in Brussels. FACE upholds the principle of sustainable use and has been a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1987. FACE works with its partners on a range of hunting-related matters from international conservation agreements to local implementation issues with the aim of sustaining hunting across Europe.



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