THE Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), farmers and game and river keepers have been busy in their mission to protect and conserve one of the nation’s favourite birds - the lapwing.

According to the latest documents published by Fordingbridge-based GWCT, the breed remains in decline and on the UK’s red list of endangered species.

Despite this, it is possible to increase breeding rates and boost populations at a local level, offering a ray of hope for this bird.

Teresa Dent, chief executive of GWCT, has issued the following statement: “The GWCT recently completed its LIFE Avon Valley Farmers’ Lapwing Recovery Project. Our new publication – Saving our Lapwing - tells the story of the project and the fantastic work of the farmers, with support from LIFE EU and Natural England.

“GWCT kicked the project off in 2013 by calling a meeting of all the farmers we know in the Avon Valley, as we could no longer bear to see the numbers of breeding lapwing on our own doorstep go down and down.

“The 40 farmers in the Valley, from Salisbury to the sea, have turned the situation around and two key indicators for lapwing are now heading up: the number of breeding pairs and breeding success.

“They have also nearly doubled redshank numbers. Both these are something for the farmers to be proud of - there will be very few places in England where this will have happened in recent years. We have used the results of this project to promote the effectiveness of bottom-up, farmer-led conservation, and the importance of a combination of good habitat and predation control during the nesting season for the recovery of ground nesting species to Defra, MPs and Peers.

“Natural England approved the Avon Valley for Facilitation Funding last year. The farmers have chosen Lizzie Grayshon from GWCT as their environmental adviser so hopefully lapwing and redshank numbers will continue to improve and still be there when the next generation of farmers are looking after them.”