Today sees the official launch of a £1 million project to prevent the extinction of an iconic Welsh bird. Bannau Brycheiniog National Park will be joined by partner organisations at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show to launch the Curlew Connections Wales project.
Curlews are a charismatic bird that breed on farmland and moorlands across Wales during the spring and early summer months. Their distinctive call, considered by many to be the herald of spring, is evocative of wilder landscapes and loved by many, but their numbers have been declining in Wales over the last 30 years from an estimated 5,700 pairs in 1993, to as few as 400 breeding pairs across the whole of Wales today. Very few eggs and chicks make it through to adulthood every year, meaning the birds are in long-term population decline and the curlew is now considered to be the bird of highest conservation concern in Wales.
Bannau Brycheiniog National Park is part of a partnership known as Gylfinir Cymru, which has received almost £1 million in funding from the Nature Networks Fund. This is a grant programme delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the Welsh Government.
This three-year project, known as Curlew Connections Wales, was drawn together by four of the key members of Gylfinir Cymru (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust; the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB; Curlew Country; and Bannau Brycheiniog National Park). They are working together from the hills of Denbighshire in the north of Wales, through mid-Wales and down to Bannau Brycheiniog in the south.
The Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew identifies what needs to be done to halt the decline of this beautiful and iconic species. This funding will enable partners to work within three key areas of Wales in an effort to begin this proses. The partners will be working alongside farmers, land managers and local communities to raise awareness of the plight of curlew and start to put measures in place to address the causes of their decline, whilst working towards sustainability.
Curlews need a range of habitats and favourable conditions on a landscape scale to breed successfully. Working in partnership with farmers and land managers we will support actions for curlew recovery whilst working toward sustainability. If no action is taken, the breeding breeding curlew is predicted to be extinct within the next decade in Wales.
Nicky Davies, Ecologist at Bannau Brycheiniog National Park said, “It is such a pleasure to see this project launched at the Royal Welsh. We have been working closely with partners to ensure we are doing all we can for this iconic bird. With so few remaining in the landscape, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are doing our utmost to reverse the decline, and ultimately extinction, of curlews. People are so passionate about curlews, and following months of collaborative working, I’m delighted to see the project officially launching.”
In Bannau Brycheiniog the project will roll out along the Usk valley, where it is hoped the funds will have the most difference. Curlews are what is known as an indicator species; if they are doing well, then it is a sign that the whole ecosystem is thriving. Protecting the bird is a key part of the National Park’s plan for the future. Find out more at https://future.bannau.wales/nature