Giving a mix of farm animals a controlled right to roam will help to improve biodiversity and solve a vole conservation dilemma in upland Britain, according to new research published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
As numbers of hill farmers and grazing animals dwindle, field voles are thriving in undisturbed upland and forest areas. This is great news for protected birds of prey such as hen harriers that use voles as a source of food, but not so good for Britains upland forests as the growing army of voles enjoy banqueting on young tree saplings.
The new research, carried out by a team of scientists from Scotland, suggests mixed farming of sheep and cattle, once common in the British landscape, should be reintroduced. This step, combined with some simple changes to forest management - such as allowing farm animals managed roaming rights within the landscape - will allow vole numbers to be controlled, helping to conserve and improve the mix of plants, trees and other wildlife.
Barnaby Smith | alfa
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