Farmland

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Agriculture is the dominant industry in Dumfries and Galloway, with three quarters of the land being farmed, making it a crucial economic resource in the support of rural communities.

Farmland © Solway Heritage

Farmland is a mosaic of other habitats found on upland and lowland areas, and may include other habitats, such as unimproved grassland and wood pasture. It is important for a range of species, including birds, mammals, invertebrates and plants, many of them relying on the continuation of farming practices to provide suitable feeding and breeding areas.

Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan

Some habitats are characteristic of farmed areas, such as hedgerows and improved grassland or cereal field margins. Species-rich hedgerows and buffers around more intensively managed areas can provide valuable food and shelter for wildlife and link to other semi-natural habitats. Although not rich in diversity, improved grassland leys provide grazing for wintering Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus and Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus which visit Dumfries and Galloway in internationally important numbers.

Tree Sparrow
Tree Sparrow

Some farmland bird species which formerly benefitted from less intensive mixed agricultural systems have declined considerably in the region with changing farming practises. Tree Sparrow Passer montanus and Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra, were once far more widespread and are now relatively scarce. A number of organisations have been working to promote best management practises in order to improve the status of the local populations of farmland birds.

The Local Biodiversity Action Plan identifies four priority farmland habitats:

  • Arable Fields
  • Traditional Field Boundaries
  • Farm Ponds
  • Traditional Orchards

Wildlife in Dumfries and Galloway