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Bird numbers will still drop'

PUBLISHED: 14:03 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 08:27 28 March 2014

Despite a new Government initiative to help farmland birds, their numbers will continue to drop this year, says the RSPB.

Despite a new Government initiative to help farmland birds, their numbers will continue to drop this year, says the RSPB.

The new initiative will help replicate the environmental benefits of set-aside, which was scrapped last year. Farmers will be paid subsidies to leave small areas for wildlife.

But any new measures will not be in place until the latter half of 2009, says the RSPB.

Dr Mark Avery, Conservation Director of the RSPB, said: “Attempts to help farmland birds back onto their feet are clearly failing and the delay in replacing the benefits of set-aside will worsen their plight..”

There are 19 species making up the Farmland Bird Index, on which population trends are based. Overall, these birds declined by 47 per cent between 1970 and 2006.

Climate change is also affecting the range of bird species in Britain. Increasing temperatures are believed to be the cause of birds such as the chaffinch, blue and great tits, robins and swallows laying their eggs about a week earlier on average than in the mid 1960s.

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