Curlew Recovery Lifeline

Nicola Davies
Ecologist, Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park

The Curlew is a pretty iconic species in our Welsh Countryside, with its distinctive call echoing through the lowland valleys, signalling the coming of summer for generations upon generations.

Sadly, since 1993, the population in Wales has fallen by over 90%. If this trajectory continues without intervention, it is predicted that the curlew will be facing country-wide extinction by 2033. Curlew is now considered to be the most pressing bird conservation priority in Wales. The population of curlew here in Bannau Brycheiniog is the most southerly breeding population found in lowland meadows in Wales and sadly, probably the most precarious in terms of the predicted impacts of climate change.

We are developing a project called CWRLIP, located in the Usk catchment and Llangorse area to prevent the extinction of curlews over the next few years . The project aims to take several approaches to the curlew’s recovery including working with farmers and landowners, survey and monitoring, education and publicity, influencing policy makers, habitat mapping, and habitat restoration.

We will be working with a wide range of stakeholders including research-based organisations, landowners, conservation organisations, policy makers, farming unions and the general public. We are working in one of 12 Important Curlew Areas (ICA’s) across Wales using the “Wales Action Plan for the Recovery of Curlew” as a general framework for direction and alongside Gylfinir Cymru – a joint working group between organisations that represent sectors of government, conservation, farming and game management in Wales.

A Pressing Challenge

This project is not just about the curlew. Curlew are an ‘umbrella’ species, meaning that action to help the curlew survive, by finding out more and protecting their habitats, will also benefit a wide range of other wildlife. The problem is we know that these habitats are under large-scale and urgent threat, and time is running out to prevent the curlew being lost from our landscape for good.

The Importance Of The Farming Community

The success of this project falls or succeeds on building a strong partnership with farmers and land-managers of the Usk valley. We will be working with farmers in targeted areas to help develop viable agricultural systems that support the curlew’s habitat, through developing sustainable land management practices.

The ambitions set out in Bannau: The Future bring hope to an ecologist like me working at the grass roots of nature conservation. It is raises the possibilities, and gives me strength to know that there are range of people out there that will be working together, to halt the decline of nature for the benefit of humanity.
Nicola Davies
Ecologist Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park

The Work of the National Park

We are a lead partner within the project, and are committed to supporting curlew conservation as part of a Wales wide network. We will endeavor to raise funds to deliver CWRLIP which will be based upon best practice, science and evidence, and through working with the farming community to recover curlew populations. We will also work to develop the key partnerships that are needed to make this project a success, and work with our land managers to combine their knowledge and expertise with our own to protect this magnificent bird for generations to come.

Success Means Everything

Failure doesn’t bear thinking about. We are focused on the success of this project. We must halt the decline of curlews in our landscape and work towards improving their ability to thrive alongside productive agricultural systems. If we fail here, not only do we lose an iconic species from Bannau Brycheiniog, but we also would be witnessing an indicator of a far greater decline in ecosystem health and the biodiversity of this National Park.

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