PROTECTING fragile wild bird populations will be the focus of an upcoming event in Hawick, focussing on wader conservation in the uplands.

Many species of birds found in Scotland's hills have recorded a sharp decline in recent years, with curlews down by almost two thirds since the 1990s, and the breeding population of lapwings halved in the same period. Farmers are being asked to play a part in the conservation of these birds or it is feared many of these iconic species could soon be lost.

The event will be held at Falnash Farm near Teviothead, a 3000-acre hill farm with pedigree sheep and commercial cattle. In line with many similar units across the Southern Uplands, Falnash has seen a steady decline in wading birds over the last few years. With uncertainty over a future support system for Scottish agriculture, there is a need to ensure that hill ground is performing for a range of different interests, including conservation and biodiversity.

The Falnash event will have a specific focus on action for wading birds, with discussions on hill grazing, rush management and bracken control. There will be a visit to the hill ground, and attendees will be encouraged to have their say and share ideas. Advisors will be present to help farmers identify funding for future work, and there will be an emphasis on win:wins for farming and nature – tricks and ideas which not only boost farm productivity but also extend a lifeline to fragile wild bird populations.

The Falnash gathering is being held as part of a wider movement driven by the Working for Waders Inititative, a collaborative project which is being run by a range of partner organizations to prevent the loss of waders in Scotland. The event is being organized by Patrick Laurie, who runs a hill farm near Dumfries.

“Farmers can play a key role in wader conservation – Working for Waders is a chance for us to have our say and share ideas which really make a difference to the birds we all love,” commented Mr Laurie. “This project puts farmers in the driving seat, so if you’re interested in conserving birds like curlews and lapwings on your ground, come along and get involved”

Farmers and land managers in the Scottish Borders can attend the half day event for free on October 9. For further information you and to book your place, call 07500 300374 or email