The Heather Trust is looking forward to the Scottish curlew conference in Battleby on Thursday this week. The meeting is one of a series that has been run across the UK looking at the worrying and dramatic decline of curlews which has taken place over the last three decades, and the conference has drawn in a wide range of speakers from across a number of different land-based industries. We are involved because we have strong ties to conservation in land management, and there is lots of crossover with the Working for Waders project which we have been supporting since it began this year.
Speaking ahead of the conference, organiser and campaigner Mary Colwell said: "This is serious. There is no time for complacency, no room for hand waving. Curlews are in free fall and we have to act NOW. Year after year, across the UK and Ireland, curlews fail to fledge chicks, and since holding these conferences, we, at last, have people trying to measure productivity across the UK and Ireland and then implementing actions to save them. Just counting pairs is not enough, we need to know if they are actually fledging the next generation. These conferences have been invaluable in getting groups organised and giving a structure for action. The curlew groups are made up of people across the board. Already they connect with each other to give advice and support. Only by working together will we change the fortunes of this much loved and endangered wader. In the end, this is the only thing that will reverse the decline; otherwise, all we are doing is monitoring extinction.
Of course there is a bigger picture. Curlews are declining because of our attitude to the landscape, the way we use it and work it. Curlews provide a lens through which to view our countryside and then decide if this is really what we want. I would guess, for the most part, the answer is no. There is alarm about declining species everywhere. So - time for change. Working for curlews focuses a laser beam of the big issues facing all of wildlife - intensive agriculture, drainage, plantations, monoculture, pesticides. All these, combined with an increase in generalists predators, means the clock is ticking for action".
There are still some free tickets available for the conference - find out more at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scottish-lowlandfarmland-curlew-workshop-tickets-46527402714