Countryside Survey 2007: Results Available

The results of the 2007 Countryside Survey have been released this morning, with the report published electronically on the Survey website. The report will be launched formally later today with a series of presentations and discussions, begun with a keynote speech by the Secretary of State for the environment, Hilary Benn.

In commenting on the results of the survey to the Times, Dr Peter Carey, the report’s lead author and a member of both the BES Council and Public and Policy Committee, said that; “The overriding message from the 2007 results is that previous intensive management of the countryside has relaxed over the past 30 years and particularly during the nine years since the last survey.

A shift by farmers to less intensive management of their land, through set-aside schemes and the conversion of arable fields to grassland, has led to an increase in the abundance of brambles, nettles and hawthorn. This is good news for some bird and mammal species but less beneficial to low-lying plants which are crowded out by these weeds.

From 1998- 2007, the number of species of arable plant found on agricultural land increased by 30%, indicating farmers’ increased tolerance for weeds on their land. Conservationists are concerned that the recent decision by the EU to scrap the set-aside scheme could remove the incentive for farmers to encourage the growth of such species.

The BES Science Policy Team will attend the launch of the Survey results and will post further information about this on the Blog in due course.