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Field sports and conservation in the United Kingdom

By Thomasine E. E. Oldfield, Robert J. Smith, Stuart R. Harrop and Nigel Leader-Williams


Many natural habitats exist on privately owned land outside\ud protected areas1, but few governments can afford to enforce or\ud subsidize conservation of this biodiversity. Even in some developed\ud countries, conservation subsidy schemes have only achieved\ud limited success2–4. Fortunately, some landowners may be willing\ud to accept management costs in return for other benefits5,\ud although this remains controversial when it involves the killing\ud of charismatic species. For example, participants in British field\ud sports, such as fox hunting and game-bird shooting, may voluntarily\ud conserve important habitats that are required by quarry\ud species6–8. Here we report results from a multidisciplinary study\ud that addressed this issue by focusing on three sites across central\ud England. We found that landowners participating in field sports\ud maintained the most established woodland and planted more\ud new woodland and hedgerows than those who did not, despite the\ud equal availability of subsidies. Therefore, voluntary habitat\ud management appears to be important for biodiversity conservation\ud in Britain. Current debates on the future of field sports in\ud Britain, and similar activities globally, may benefit from considering\ud their utility as incentives to conserve additional habitat\ud on private land

Topics: GE
Year: 2003
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