Broadly, the Owl Box Initiative aims to improve land management for a range of threatened species and result in improvements linked to four objectives of the Government's 25-year environmental plan:
1. Aid in the recovery of threatened, iconic and economically important species
Although Barn Owl populations have now stabilised in the UK their numbers are still thought to be considerably lower than they were 100 years ago. A lack of suitable nest sites is one factor that supresses population growth. The project will provide additional nesting sites which should benefit this iconic species.
2. Improve land management
Little is currently known about how Barn Owls use agricultural habitats, particularly those associated with Agri-environment Schemes (AES). We will identify AES habitat preferences of Barn Owls, using GPS tracking, and share the results with farmers. We expect that Barn Owls will preferentially forage over enhanced grass habitats and this will encourage landowners to plant more of these habitat types on their land. We will use the tracking results to produce land management guidelines for Barn Owls and use this opportunity to explain how the habitats owls use may also benefit other species.
3. Help in the development of a nature recovery networks.
The heritage outcomes from this project could inform the development and implementation of future AES and contribute towards the development of a Nature Recovery Network.
4. Improve people’s wellbeing by using green spaces.
Our project will provide opportunities for a wide range of people to work outdoors and engage with wildlife.