The PARTRIDGE project is proud to publish ‘Farming with Nature’

18 August 2020 - Published by Francis Buner


This week, the PARTRIDGE project is proud to publish ‘Farming with Nature’.  This a beautifully illustrated book summarising how farmland biodiversity can be enhanced across Europe by applying methods developed for grey partridge conservation.  This publication (also available in Dutch and Flemish), closes a gap in the existing grey partridge literature. It illustrates, using results of published research, how conservation management tailored towards reversing declines in grey partridges, one of the fasted declining farmland birds in Europe, benefits farmland wildlife generally. Where farmland is managed for grey partridges, farmland biodiversity is thriving. It is a win-win for nature and people.

This is not just a book for grey partridge enthusiasts. If you’re a farmer, shoot manager, a farm advisor, or just interested in farmland wildlife, this book is a must read. Order your copy here now as their number is limited:

At the beginning of the PARTRIDGE project we knew that, although the conservation approach we use is firmly based on scientific evidence, there was no easily accessible summary of this evidence for land managers and policy makers.  The wealth of research on grey partridge conservation is hidden to most people.  We were determined to bring this research to all those interested in the PARTRIDGE project. This includes the general public who come and enjoy the wildlife thriving on our demo sites, farmers managing their land for food and wildlife, hunters looking after their quarry species, Agri-environment (AE) advisers consulting with farmers, policy makers designing AE measures or ministers devising strategies to address declines in biodiversity. Our aim was to explain the approaches used on the PARTRIDGE demonstration sites and the science they are based on, showing how they work both for partridges and other species sharing the farmed landscape.

After three months reviewing academic literature (we have cited a staggering 168 publications in the final version), the book’s first draft was presented at the PARTRIDGE meeting in Loddington, UK in November 2017. That meeting served to highlight which concepts in the book worked and which did not, with lots of helpful feedback from our international partners of all backgrounds, academic and practical. The result was a publication that examines the cornerstones of partridge conservation across Northern Europe, solid facts about the habitats that partridges need for nesting, raising their young, winter cover and food, and how to manage predation pressure with or without lethal predator control.  This serves as a backdrop to then illustrate how other wildlife benefits from these measures.

The PARTRIDGE project is an international undertaking, with 14 collaborating partners across 6 countries (it is funded by the EU’s North Sea Region Interreg Programme and led by the GWCT). One of its underlying aims is to work effectively and collaboratively across many countries - a big challenge but also one of the project’s fundamental strengths. Uniting farmers, hunters, conservationists, politicians, and local people across several countries with different beliefs, economic interests and cultural backgrounds may be a challenging task on many fronts. The desire to achieve a good outcome for partridges and other local wildlife unites partners and stakeholders so that people with different perspectives can pull together. Input from an extensive editing team made sure that the book truly represents the science that underpins the project and signposts how to use that science to recover farmland biodiversity. The design work of the Dutch team, led by Birdlife Netherlands (Vogelbescherming Nederland, VBN), ensured that this production is as beautiful as it is useful.

Without action, our children may be the last generation that see wild grey partridges on farmland. This has been brought into sharp focus by the recent declaration that, despite many years of dedicated work, partridges are now extinct in Switzerland. Fundamentally, partridges need what we all need – a safe home, food for themselves and their offspring, and not to be eaten by predators. This publication shows that it is possible to provide these things, we know how to do it, and many farmland wildlife species will thank us.

What do others have to say about the book?

Minette Batters, NFU President, England: “I hope this book will inspire farmers and policy makers across the UK and Europe”.

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, Scotland: “The practical information and guidance in this booklet will be invaluable to those hoping to help restore farmland wildlife and could help guide agri-environment policy in Scotland”.

Tim Furbank, Oakbank & Conservation, UK: Farming with nature gives a fascinating insight into how it is possible to reverse the pan-European decline in farmland biodiversity by using the grey partridge as a key indicator species. This booklet reveals some uncomfortable truths as well as reasons to be positive about the future.

Jim Egan, Kings Technical Advisor, UK: “We are delighted to be able to support this fantastic publication; it brings together farmland ecology, research and practical delivery giving a real insight into how well managed farmland can support good populations of Grey partridge and benefit wider farmland species. Working alongside the Trust at The Allerton Project and Scottish Grey Partridge Recovery Project at Balgonie we have found the collaborative approach fascinating and have been pleased to share our professional expertise with the scientific and advisory teams.”

Mark Tufnell, Deputy President, CLA: “This project has highlighted key techniques for helping the recovery of this iconic bird and showing the benefits to increased biodiversity. The evidence book is a valuable resource for all those who care for the countryside and wish to see farmland birds flourish. I thoroughly recommend it.”

Dr Markus Jenny, Farmland biodiversity and policy expert, Swiss Ornithological Institute: “Wow, what a great publication. I will share this immediately”.

Dr. John P. Carroll, Director and Professor, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, NE, USA. “A world heading toward 9-10 billion people requires that the UK and Europe meet their obligations to ensure that sustainable land use includes both food production and biodiversity needs. Farming with Nature is a valuable contribution to that.”