Project Farmer Clusters
Thousands of farmers across the country have formed 'Farmer Clusters' with their farming neighbours to work together for wildlife, at landscape scale. Wildlife does not thrive in isolation, so managing and connecting habitats across farming boundaries can deliver greater benefits.
The Owl Box Initiative is working with six farmer clusters across Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, building and expanding on existing Barn Owl monitoring carried out by volunteer ornithologists in these areas; the project will work with the new Cranborne Chase and Avon Valley Farmer Clusters, the longer standing Martin Down and Allenford Farmer Clusters, the Pewsey Downs Farmers Group and the Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership.
As a group of 'Working Conservationists', each farmer cluster involved in the project has set out agreed targets around common issues, local species decline, opportunities for habitat enhancement, as well as considering important business and community needs. Many of these farmer clusters target priority species such as the Grey Partridge and Turtle Dove in their management plans, the requirements of which greatly overlap with the Barn Owl. This work provides a solid foundation to help the project expand conservation work and monitoring of the local Barn Owl population, understand habitat preferences across a larger area and work with established farming communities to promote wider farmland conservation.
We would like to say thank you to all the project farmers and their facilitators for working with us, and for their time in erecting new Barn Owl boxes, creating habitat and providing access to their holdings for our team to carry out research.